On Wednesday, Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, revealed his 10-year plan for health insurance reform. After months of negotiation, the bill was finally made public, only to reveal that it excludes a government-facilitated public option. The public option is a free health insurance option which would be open to everyone, similar to Medicare.
“For too many, quality, affordable healthcare is simply out of reach,” said Baucus, whose plan requires all legal U.S. residents to purchase health insurance. However, he has proposed that subsidies are set up on a sliding scale to help those who cannot afford coverage.
Despite the lack of a public option, the proposed plan hopes to create non-profit cooperatives, which Baucus believes will reduce insurance costs by encouraging competition among providers. The plan also proposes the creation of insurance exchanges, wherein small businesses and families can shop a variety of options before purchasing insurance.
The plan also outlines requirements for American insurance providers, as it states that they can no longer refuse to provide coverage to consumers who have pre-existing medical conditions. They would also be restricted from limiting benefit plans or life insurance coverage. Additionally, healthcare providers will be required to pay $6 billion per year to fund the new reforms.
Public opinion concerning the reform varies, with an almost equal divide between supporters and critics. As far as politicians are concerned, the proposed plan lacks support from the Republicans, despite the fact that Baucus has conceded to more Republican than Democratic demands.