The health care reform legislation that’s grinding through the Senate Campaign Finance Committee, chaired by Max Baucus, was referred to in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times as a “middle-of-the-road bill” more than once. Middle of the road? In what sense?
Perhaps this idea works in the sense that on one side of the road, there’s the status quo, where insurance company bureaucrats routinely deny people medical treatment for which they had paid to be covered, and huge numbers of Americans can’t afford to have medical insurance at all, but at least people aren’t paying higher taxes to support a government system. On the other side of the road, there’s universal health care provided through a single-payer system, or through a public option, in which people could afford medical care, by making an end run around wasteful insurance companies.
And what’s in the middle of the road, with the Max Baucus plan? It’s a little bit of both – the worst of both worlds. There’s no plausible scenario to make medical insurance more affordable, but the BaucusCare plan would require people to buy insurance anyway. At the same time, taxes would go up, and insurance companies would retain their control on delivery of health care, making everyone else play by their rules. In fact, insurance company insiders would be given the power by the Senate Finance Committee legislation to write the regulations for their own industry.
I guess you could call that middle of the road, in the sense that it contains half of what’s wrong with the status quo and the downside half of the public option or a single payer system. Does the legislation coming out of the Senate Finance Committee make any sense? Only about as much sense as standing in the middle of the road during rush hour.