Ex-Senate Leaders Craft Bipartisan Health Care Compromise
"Democrats Tom Daschle and George Mitchell are set to join Republicans Bob Dole and Howard Baker on Wednesday to release a $1.2 trillion proposal that would be fully paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases," the Associated Press reports. The proposal from the four former Senate leaders "combines ideas from both political parties to guarantee coverage for all" and is an attempt to "prevent a repeat of the 1990s standoff over health care."
"A summary of the plan calls for an individual requirement to carry health insurance, an idea that many Republicans support. But it would also impose new levies on large companies that don't provide coverage to their workers, an approach preferred by Democrats. Perhaps the most controversial part calls for taxing health insurance benefits worth more than the value of the coverage that members of Congress get."
As for the question of a public option, the proposal "would leave it up to the states to create publicly sponsored insurance plans that would compete with private insurers." The former Senators "acknowledged they don't have to answer to voters or worry about interest groups any longer. But they said health care is too important an issue to get dragged down again by partisan political warfare" (6/17).
Meanwhile, a coalition of 330 "economists, health experts and business leaders" signed a petition calling "on the federal government 'to move boldly' to overhaul the country's health care system and help breathe life into the moribund economy," the Sacramento Bee reports (Calvan, 6/17).