Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nice Try, Senator Baucus

You have to give Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) credit for trying. After three months of working with the Gang of Six — three Democrats and three Republicans — the bill he’s come up with has most of what the president wants in healthcare insurance reform, except instead of a public option, he’s going with the co-op idea, probably more out of an attempt to appease the GOP than for the practical reason of getting affordable health insurance to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it. Be that as it may, the bill is already drawing fire from both sides, and the Republicans have already said they won’t go for it. And when it gets out on the floor for debate, it will be trashed for what it has, what it doesn’t have, and whatever the GOP and the right-wing freaks out in the hustings can scare up among their minions. After all, we’ve already had a summer of “death panels,” required payments for abortions, illegal immigrants getting free lollipops, and mandatory circumcision. What do you think will happen when they actually read the bill?

The Bismarckian saying about the comparison of making laws and sausage is apt here, as it would be with any bill that is more comprehensive than a resolution endorsing Mom and Apple Pie. Whatever goes in at this end will come out looking completely different. It could have the public option, real cost controls, and the elimination of the arbitrary and cruel restrictions that insurance companies put on their coverage such as labeling domestic violence as a “pre-existing condition” or recission when a patient starts costing real money. Or it could be a diluted and tattered piece of crap that has as much effect as the law that legalized the use and promotion of the metric system. Either way, Senator Baucus gets credit for at least making the Sisyphean attempt to get some bipartisan support, even though the GOP will never admit to it.