This should be the beginning of the…beginning in the push by Democrats for “universal” healthcare.  It looks like the Baucus plan will push for mandates, which would make his plan a bit more like Hillary’s than Obama’s, though their plans were very similar, overall.  I can already hear the vast conspiracy forming talking points riddled with the words socialism and commie. 

Paul Krugman argued that mandates were necessary after the history of struggles the Clintons had with universal coverage.  I think mandates would work as long as the mechanisms used worked broadly.  Small businesses need to be able to cover their employees, so their tax breaks need to be large enough to cover the extra expense. The plan focuses on employer coverage, and would seem to do little in the way of capitalizing on the power to lobby of large corporations like GM, which spends more on healthcare than it does on steel. The devil is always in the details.

The Medicare-like public program, if successful, could morph into the single payer national healthcare system like most advanced nations enjoy. Then the administration costs of US healthcare would probably fall to a normal 3-5%, down from the usual 25-30%, a scandal of epic proportions. That money mostly goes to paying the salaries of 23 year olds who tell you that your procedure is not covered because you had a bladder infection 10 years ago.

And there’s this:  “In addition, insurance companies would be barred from charging higher premiums or denying coverage outright to people with pre-existing conditions, as is now routine for people shopping on their own.”  If the barrage of insurance company lobbyists can be averted, this would, in itself, be a huge win for Americans. 

The Healthcare Blog has a writeup of the Baucus plan:  http://www.thehealthcareblog.com/the_health_care_blog/2008/11/baucus-proposal.html

And Baucus has his plan online:  http://finance.senate.gov/healthreform2009/home.html

And I just got an email this morning from MoveOn.org asking me to host a “Fired Up and Ready to Go” gathering.  We shall see how things play out.

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