Healthy Americans Act - Senate Committee Alternatives

Senate Committee Alternatives

In November 2008, The Hill pointed out that the Act, despite its two-year head start and its cosponsors from both parties, was in competition with the (then-)undrafted proposals in the works from Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, and Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

In June 2009, just after the CBO announced that the then-current draft of the bill from Baucus' Finance Committee would increase the federal budget deficit by $1.6 trillion during its first decade and would leave millions of people uninsured, the Wall Street Journal characterized the "less-radical" HAA as "Wyden's Third Way" and pointed out some key differences between the majority's proposal and HAA:

The plans favored by Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy or President Barack Obama rely on a "public option" in which government insurance would supposedly "compete" with private insurers, a move many see as leading to a single-payer system. By contrast, the Wyden-Bennett Healthy Americans Act relies on the private insurance market while imposing a series of regulations to squeeze savings from the private sector. It also requires individuals to buy coverage for themselves, the controversial "individual mandate."

David Brooks of The New York Times provided evidence of the political impediments to HAA, citing an incident witnessed during a May 12, 2009 hearing during which the Senate Finance Committee heard from a "vast majority" of over a dozen experts from the right and the left who "agreed that ending the tax exemption on employer-provided health benefits should be part of a reform package"; according to Brooks, Wyden pointed out to those in attendance that HAA repeals the exemption and provides universal coverage", a comment provoking what Brooks characterized as an "exasperated" look that made it clear that the idea wasn't going to part of his committees legislative drafts. Brooks pointed out that "senators don’t run thingshairmen and their staffs run things"; he acknowledged there are "brewing efforts to incorporate a few Wyden-Bennett ideas" but pointed out the "stiff resistance to the aspects that fundamentally change incentives", resistance originating in "committee staffs don’t like the approach because it’s not what they’ve been thinking about."

Read more about this topic:  Healthy Americans Act

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