Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden Wins Big

The Senate will have an opportunity to fix one of the worst features of Reid health care bill.  In it’s present form, people with employer based health care will have no choice but to accept whatever their employer provides.  Wyden would expand the insurance exchange to include all those people.

RonWyden ...Throughout this year's healthcare debate, Wyden has remained a steadfast and very vocal proponent of his own reform legislation. One of the signature aims of Wyden's bill, which is co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Bob Bennett (Utah), is to transition people away from employer-sponsored insurance and into a competitive marketplace that offers them more choices of health plan than most people get at work.

With Reid needing all 60 members of his caucus unified as the healthcare reform debate moves forward, answering Wyden's criticisms is a crucial step. “Sen. Wyden has worked tirelessly to reform our health system, and I am pleased to have his support," Reid said.

The Wyden-Reid-Baucus amendment does not go that far, but it would open up the health insurance exchanges to considerably more people than the bill as currently written. Under Reid's version of the Senate bill and under the House-passed bill, the vast majority of people who receive health benefits from their jobs would be ineligible to shop for insurance on the exchanges, which instead would primarily be accessed by individuals and workers at small businesses.

The agreement between Wyden, Reid and Baucus would change that."The agreed to amendment will make it possible for these individuals to convert their tax-free employer health subsidies into vouchers that they can use to choose a health insurance plan in the new health insurance exchanges. The Congressional Budget Office estimates a previous version of this provision will expand coverage to more than a million Americans," according to a statement from Wyden's office.

Wyden tried to bring a similar amendment to a vote during the Finance Committee's consideration of an earlier version of the healthcare reform but Baucus blocked him… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Hill>

Assuming that the new insurance exchanges includes a Medicare-like public plan, this will open the public option to millions more, giving it the teeth it needs to provide real competition to Big Insurance.  Kudos to Wyden for getting this through, and especially for wrangling support from BARF Baucus.


libhom said...

This is some progress, but what we really need is single payer.

TomCat said...

Libhom, I agree. I see this as a foot in the door toward that end.