Many Industry Groups Favor Baucus Plan
Media reports find a generally positive response from industry to the health overhaul bill released Wednesday by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
The Associated Press/Boston Globe: "The latest health overhaul plan circulating on Capitol Hill gives health insurers, drug makers and large employers reasons to heave sighs of relief, sparing them the higher costs and more burdensome rules included in other Democratic-written alternatives. Industry players that have already struck bargains with President Barack Obama's administration ... to help pay for revamping the health system saw most of those deals left intact -- and in some cases sweetened" in the proposal unveiled Wednesday by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont (Davis, 9/17).
Dow Jones Newswires/The Wall Street Journal reports on the drug industry's response: "The Senate Finance Committee's health proposal released on Wednesday is missing key provisions that would have put the pharmaceutical industry on the defense. The proposal doesn't include giving the federal government the authority to negotiate Medicare drug prices, one of President Barack Obama's campaign promises, or force the drug companies to pay billions of dollars in rebates for people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid" (Favole, 9/16).
The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports on the response of nonprofit hospitals: "Nonprofit hospitals can breathe a sigh of relief that a health-care overhaul proposed by Sen. Max Baucus doesn't include an excise-tax measure that had been contemplated just a few months ago for hospitals not offering enough charity care. Instead, the Baucus bill unveiled today adds four relatively benign requirements of hospitals, many of which have already adopted most of the practices" (Martinez, 9/16).
The Associated Press/Forbes reports on insurer shares: "Shares of health insurers jumped Wednesday after a key Democrat released a much anticipated Senate version of a health care reform bill that excluded a government-run insurance option. The so-called public option had been a contentious issue with health insurers, with the industry viewing it as unfair competition. Instead, Sen. Max Baucus released a proposed bill that would require every American to obtain health insurance, which would be a financial boon for the health insurance industry" (9/16).
Roll Call reports busy lobbying by interest groups: "With Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) long-awaited health care proposal finally in hand on Wednesday, industry lobbyists, union officials and other downtown stakeholders immediately went to work war-gaming the complicated give-and-take that will culminate in next week's markup" (Murray, 9/17).
But some industry groups still have concerns.
The Wall Street Journal reports on banks and insurers fighting to maintain the tax advantage for health savings accounts: "If Congress passes a health-care overhaul bill, all health plans would have to meet certain criteria to qualify as adequate coverage. Most people's current coverage would be grandfathered in but, if they switched plans, those plans would need to meet the new standards. Not all HSA-qualified plans, in particular those sold by insurers to individuals and small businesses, would make the grade, according to industry experts" (Knight, 9/16).
MSNBC reports on the concerns of small businesses: "Small-business owners have been begging for changes to the health care system, but they believe they have the most to lose when and if reform materializes. Without the lobbying power of giant industries like health care and the auto industry, many are convinced they'll end up being saddled with the biggest burden, despite promises from President Barack Obama to keep costs down." Their specific concerns include an employer mandate and a payroll tax penalty (Tahmincioglu, 9/16).
Congress Daily reports on a small business group that wants a public option: "The Main Street Alliance, a network of small business organizations in 15 states, has tried to rally employers who believe that the choice of a government-administered plan would drive down insurance costs and serve as a backstop for those who cannot afford to offer insurance to their workers. Their position clashes with the stance of the nation's premier small-business lobby, the National Federation of Independent Business, which has been working to kill the public option, which seems to be languishing" (Dann, 9/17).
See related KHN coverage: Small Business Owners Deliver Mixed Messages To Capitol Hill (7/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.