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Wyden may vote against Baucus health bill


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Wyden may vote against Baucus health bill

So, here's where we are on health care.

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has finished its markup work on the Baucus health care bill. They'll take a vote on Tuesday.

According to the Washington Post, Senators Ron Wyden and Jay Rockefeller are considering voting against the Baucus bill:

If all 10 Republicans on the panel vote no, two Democratic defections would be enough to send Baucus and the Obama White House scrambling to regroup. "More needs to be done to hold insurance companies accountable, to hold premiums down for the American people," Wyden said in an interview Sunday. "I want to continue these discussions." ...

Wyden, like many other Democrats, has begun intensive talks with administration officials and with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who must blend the Finance bill and a version approved by the health committee for the full Senate to consider. ...

Wyden is concerned that under the legislation, nearly 200 million Americans who receive coverage through an employer would be barred from shopping on the new exchange. He also worries that providing a "hardship waiver" to families that cannot afford insurance leaves too many without coverage.

"People don't hold rallies saying, 'Thank you for my exemption,' " he said. "Rather, they want us to deliver more affordable coverage."

Around 1 a.m. Friday morning, in the Finance Committee deliberations, Wyden's "Free Choice" proposal finally came up. The Post's Ezra Klein has the story:

About one in the morning, Wyden's Free Choice Act came before the committee. But it never came up for a vote. Instead, Max Baucus effectively ruled it out of order. The reason? It didn't have a full CBO score. This came as a surprise to Wyden and his team, who'd gotten the amendment scored by the CBO, and had been in endless negotiations with Baucus, the White House, employers, and labor over the past week. If the score was in fact partial, as Baucus and Conrad claimed, you'd think someone might have mentioned it. No one did.

But suddenly, in the wee hours of Friday morning, the chairs of the Finance and Budget Committees were explaining that the amendment lacked a valid score. And an amendment without a valid score is "out of order." Wyden was left with little choice but to withdraw the amendment. It was not deliberative democracy at its finest. But it served its purpose: it killed the amendment.

One more fascinating item, that I missed last week: Ezra Klein also notes that Wyden successfully inserted an amendment giving states tremendous flexibility in administering health care. Which makes sense, given Oregon's success in using Medicaid waivers to be innovative in health care delivery (i.e. the Oregon Health Plan).

OK, waivers - not so controversial. But Ezra asks, "What If They Passed Single-Payer and Didn't Tell Anyone?":

That might have just happened, at least at the state level. The Wyden folks quietly slipped in an amendment giving states enormous flexibility to experiment upward. Essentially, states can ask the federal government for a waiver that allows them to keep the federal funds they're receiving and do pretty much anything they want with them...
That could be used for a public option. But it could also be used for single-payer. ...

t's not impossible to imagine a liberal state using the waiver to introduce some mega-public plan that's a lot stronger than what's currently on the table and can be used as a demonstration project for other states. At the very least, this should make governor's races more interesting from the health-care perspective.

Hmmm, anybody know of a state where health care might come up in a Governor's race?


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Who the heck is Wyden and why do we care?

Liberal Senator on the SFC. If Baucus loses Rockefeller and Wyden and can't get snowe, HCR dies.

Baucus is a Republican-Democrat Corporate Fascist and his stupid bill is an insult to those of us who want real reform.

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