Still Miles Away From Health-Care Reform
After months of negotiations, it seems as though Sen. Max Baucus's "Gang of Six" has produced a bill -- or at least, a summary of a bill -- that could be a poster child for the dangers of government by committee ["Baucus Bill Would Expand Care Without Adding to Deficit," front page, Sept. 17]. The bill would raid Medicare funds, force all citizens to buy insurance from private companies without any meaningful protections concerning deductibles, and utterly fail to create the cost-control pressure on the insurance industry that a solid public insurance option could have provided. And even after giving away the store in a manner that would make Neville Chamberlain blush, Mr. Baucus apparently still doesn't have the support of Republicans, meaning the Democrats will be solely responsible for the mess that this patchwork of compromises will create.
Now that it is clear that no amount of weakness will produce a bill acceptable to Republicans, Mr. Baucus should scrap this proposal in favor of a new "reform" bill worthy of the name: one that creates a strong public insurance option and is loaded with meaningful consumer protections.
It is hard to believe that it took Sen. Max Baucus so long to come up with such a bad bill. I thought that our leaders were trying to cut the cost of insurance, not give the insurance companies Christmas in September. To move forward, I suggest that the Democrats stick with the public option and add to any proposed bill the following provisions that seem to be the Republicans' health-care reform panacea: malpractice reform and allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines.
The clock is ticking. Other countries have figured all this out. Are we stupid?
ANNE C. STALFORT