It’s important to understand what a bill without that public option
would actually do. Brave New Films got Jerry Flanagan of Consumer
Watchdog to explain the elements of Baucus-care without a public option, and it’s not a pretty picture.
As Flanagan explains, without a public option, insurance companies
can set their own rates, set their own level of benefits, and force the
uninsured to pay them under penalty of law – you’re talking about a
forced market where people will be fined for not giving money to
private health insurance companies. Max Baucus would say that there are
safeguards to limit the amount of out-of-pocket spending or premium
spending as a percentage of income, but he wants those rules to be set
by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an industry-friendly group without open meetings or public hearings, making the potential for loopholes and abuse very ripe.
Flanagan also takes on the bad employer provisions in the Baucus
bill, which will allow them to drop health care for their customers and
throw them onto the exchanges. He says that employers could pay only a
couple hundred dollars a year per employee under this plan.
Flanagan further explains that the co-op alternative in the Baucus
bill could lead to the gutting of state consumer protection laws on
health insurance. This is a key point, and could lead to the insurance
market looking like the credit card market, with every issuer moving to
states with virtually no regulations or restrictions on how they manage
their credit card business.
If you’re looking for a quick, succinct way to explain the problems with the Baucus bill, pass along this video.