Republicans Move Goal Posts On Baucus Health Bill

baucus-grassley-cropped-proto-custom_2Yesterday, after nine months of bipartisan negotiations, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) released the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill without attracting any Republican support. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the $774 billion proposal would not add any red ink to the deficit and would actually “result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $49 billion over the 2010-2019 period.” Nevertheless, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) falsely stated on Fox News, “This bill continues to spend trillions of dollars.”

For months, Republicans have complained that Democrats were pushing a partisan government-takeover of health care that would only add to the deficit and bankrupt the nation. They insisted that any health care reform bill must exclude a public option, allow Americans to purchase coverage across state lines, exclude funding for abortion and ensure that illegal immigrants are note eligible for coverage.

But once presented with legislation that met many of these demands, the GOP demurred, refusing to meet Baucus half-way:

REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR – NO PUBLIC OPTION: “I urged the President to take the public option off the table because it’s universally opposed by all Republicans in the Senate…it is a roadblock to building the kind of consensus that we need to move forward.” [Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), 9/13/2009]

BAUCUS BILL – NO PUBLIC OPTION: The Baucus bill replaces the public option with a network of consumer driven cooperatives. As the Congressional Budget Office explains, “The specifications include provisions to establish health care cooperatives that would provide insurance coverage and operate as nonprofit organizations.” [pg. 32-38 in Baucus mark]

REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR – POLICIES ACROSS STATE LINES: “Interstate competition allowing people to buy insurance across state lines.” [Sen. John Thune (R-SD), 9/8/2009]

BAUCUS BILL – POLICIES ACROSS STATE LINES: Starting in 2015, states may form ―health care choice compacts to allow for the purchase of individual health insurance across state lines…. Once compacts have been agreed to, insurers would be allowed to sell policies in any state participating in the compact.” [pg. 12]

REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR – HIGH RISK POOLS: “Senator McCain has a proposal sometimes called high-risk pools at the state level…These are efforts I think we can have bipartisan agreement on and deal with the question of pre-existing conditions.” [Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), 9/10/2009]

BAUCUS BILL – HIGH RISK POOLS: “Within a year of enactment, any uninsured individual who has been denied health care coverage due to a pre-existing condition can enroll in a high-risk pool….The high-risk pool will exist until 2013,” until the Exchange is established. [pg. 2]

REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR – VERIFICATION OF CITIZENSHIP: “Because what the Republicans want was some verification between illegal and documented.” [Michael Steele, 9/10/2009]

BAUCUS BILL – VERIFICATION OF CITIZENSHIP: “In order to prevent illegal immigrants from accessing the state exchanges obtaining federal health care tax credits, the Chairman‘s Mark requires verification of the following personal data…” [pg. 21]

REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR – NO PUBLIC FUNDS FOR ABORTION: “I’m not going to do anything that allows a health care bill to make more abortions permissible. And if I had my way, I would do something to make them less permissible, because I’m pro-life. And I believe that the — life is pretty important.” [Sen. Chuck Grassely (R-IA), 8/6/2009]

BAUCUS BILL – NO PUBLIC FUNDS FOR ABORTION: “No tax credit or cost-sharing credits may be used to pay for abortions.” [pg. 26]

REPUBLICANS ASKED FOR – HIGH DEDUCTIBLE POLICIES: Ways for “individuals and businesses could purchase high deductible policies, create a fund for their first dollar benefits could be greatly expanded.” [Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), 6/28/2009]

BAUCUS BILL – HIGH DEDUCTIBLE POLICIES: A separate ―young invincible policy would be available for those 25 years or younger. This plan would be a catastrophic only policy in which the catastrophic coverage level would be set at the HSA current law limit, but prevention benefits would be exempt from the deductible. [pg. 21]

Republicans, in other words, have moved the goal posts on reform. Despite Baucus’ many concessions, the GOP is still arguing that the proposal “simply leads to more government, more spending and more taxes” and “spends too much.”

“The chairman’s health care proposal (known as the “chairman’s mark”) that was released by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) in advance of next week’s Finance Committee Markup is just more of the same big government policies that have been proposed by this Congress and this administration for months,” Sen. Jim Demint (R-SC) wrote on his website.