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Swing Senators Chew Over CBO Report

By Sarah Lovenheim
Here's some of the latest buzz surrounding the swing-vote senators who will vote this week on the health-care bill out of the Senate Finance Committee, illustrating the pressure they're under as they approach a decision.

CBO Report Could Woo Lincoln
Newsweek's Gaggle speculates about the impact of the Congressional Budget Office's preliminary analysis of the Baucus bill. Since "the bill looks to be reducing the deficit, it will ameliorate some concerns held by those wavering moderate Dems." Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas is one of the wavering Dems who could be wooed, according to Newsweek. If Democrats are lucky, Baucus "may even pick up the vote of Olympia Snowe, who so far has held her cards close to her chest," Newsweek said.

Snowe: Let Me 'Thoroughly Review' Report
The Wall Street Jounral's Janet Adamy and Jonathan Weisman write that since Snowe and others expressed concern "that the bill forced people who couldn't afford it to buy insurance," the committee has made many concessions -- slashing new penalties on the uninsured, limiting the number of people who must carry health insurance and raising the annual fee levied on insurers, for instance. Yet Snowe said she's still holding out to "thoroughly review and evaluate" the CBO's analysis before making a decision.

A Taste of Snowe's Diet, 'Public Option Lite'
Slate's Timothy Noah writes that despite continued controversy over proposals for public option plans, "it remains possible" that what Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) calls "'some kind of public option' will be incorporated into the bill." Chances are "it won't match even the watered-down versions approved by the four congressional committees that have advanced health reform thus far. It will be Public Option Lite," such as the plan proposed by Snowe. Although Snowe's proposal is not included in the Senate Finance Committee bill, "it could come up on the Senate floor."

But a "problem with Snowe's proposal is that the trigger wouldn't be national; it would be applied state-by-state, thereby weakening the public option's leverage in negotiating doctor and hospital fees and drug prices."

Wyden: If He Plays His Cards Right.
The Oregonian estimates in an editorial that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus's (D-Mont.) dismissal last week of Sen. Ron Wyden's (D-Ore.) free choice amendment is bound to help the Oregon senator. "There's a strong possibility that Senate leaders, in exchange for his vote on the Finance committee, will grant him cost-control concessions that could be made when the bill gets to the floor," it said. Yet if the committee isn't willing to compromise for Wyden, the Oregonian says, "he might as well stick to his principled stand and vote no."

By Washington Post editors  |  October 8, 2009; 8:36 AM ET
Categories:  Health Reform , Swing Senators  
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Next: Pelosi Won't Be 'Put in Her Place'


The fact that the Finance Committee has come up with enough Medicare cuts and additional fees and taxes to total the staggering cost of this bill should be a cause for worry, not celebration. Taxes and fees on insurance companies will guarantee higher insurance premiums for every individual in the United States. Higher employer fees and costs will cause higher unemployment. Higher unemployment will mean fewer taxes collected and lead to a higher deficit. Remember, these are the same people who have had to throw more money into cash for clunkers than they ever dreamed. Oh--and apparently it is the IRS that will have to enforce health insurance compliance. Their additional costs are not likely even figured in.

Posted by: sam38 | October 8, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

829 billion and it leaves 25 million uninsured. in other words,we destroy the system, raise taxes (indirect as well as direct) , raise insurance premiums and raise medical costs , and all we do is reduce the uninsured by a couple of percentage points. Adding insult to injury, the dirty dems won't even let anybody read the bill.
This is liberal arrogance, cramming a bill down the throat of the public without regard for public opinion all in the name of neo-nazi paternalism.

Posted by: MARKM2 | October 8, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

how can an $800 billion bill save us money?
The emperor is not wary any clothing, wake up.

Posted by: glenncrandall | October 8, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

What a nightmare. How is everyone enjoying their dose of "Hope and Change" now. Why isn't everyone talking about the fact that we would collect 10 years of taxes for 6 years of the program under this bill? The deficit explodes in the next 10 years when this little trick goes away.

Posted by: restonhoops | October 8, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

There are still, what, four other healthcare bills out on the table in which one bill will be melded. So, I wouldn't put it past these tricky bastards to be gaming the numbers here. You know you can tell when the politician is lying when his lips move.
When I go to the polls next year it is going to be, Off with their Heads.

Posted by: pipian | October 8, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

What a wonderful bill. Seniors will suffer a 500 billion cut in MEDICARE with the baby boomers coming on line. Does the government understand what it costs seniors to maintain their dental care. I live in Nevada and Dina Titus(congresswoman) just goes along with Nancy Pelosi. I can't wait to vote her OUT. By the way, the budget for medicare in 2010 is 487 billion. These people just don't care about seniors.

Posted by: buzzychief | October 8, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

As I understand it, the cuts in Medicare that everyone is talking about is cuts in too-generous payments made to Medicare Advantage, the "private" branch of Medicare that has really raised costs to the system. We don't more of the same in our new reforms. We need a public option so we won't be required to pay the people who have brought us to this point, private insurance. If you like your private insurance, maybe you just haven't been really sick yet. Or you're really lucky. Now we're talking about "public option lite." I don't think so. The public option conversation apparently would have been dead a long time ago, but the public won't allow that. We who want and need a public option (the majority of the American people, including the majority of doctors, shown in poll after poll) have been hearing that from all sides for so long that we don't hear it too much any more.

Note to shrill, hateful voices: You look even more ignorant if your spelling and grammar are wrong.

Posted by: Hannalee | October 8, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I hope that these idiot dimocrats continue pushing this garbage on the American people. The carnage at the polls (this year and next) will be staggering.

Posted by: flintston | October 8, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I still say this courting of the Republicans and others who are against the bill is a prime example of Mr. O's community organizing skills. It makes me sick.

Posted by: nancycrichton | October 9, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

CBO issues of health bill costs are a distraction from the key issues of concern in the proposals of Mr. Obama, Mr. Baucus and Ms. Pelosi.

The current proposal in Congress does not address any of the most meaningful issues in health care:

1) The need for single-payer insurance

Multi-payer systems inflate health care costs and give 8-12% of total health system costs to private insurers in system waste

2) True universality of coverage in a plan that doesn't create a second-class citizenry of the insured

Congressional plans still leave 10-15% of our country insured and create a second-class system of the poor insured that will place them below Medicaid recipients with respect to stigma and prioritization of care

3) The crisis of doctor shortages and primary care deficits in American medical care

Doctors are retiring at record rates and they are only being replaced at 75-85% rate because of a monopoly and market-control of the MD control by the AMA. Also, we have a 2/3 primary care / specialist ratio and 40% less per-capita doctors than the best European and Scandinavian countries. We have plenty of dermatologists and radiologists but not enough doctors to complete basic screenings and offer fundamental preventative care

4) Tax shortages for the Federal government and a lack of funding for the Medicare (and Social Security) trust funds

With a $13 trillion deficit and annual budget deficits of greater than $500B, our country and our entitlement programs are heading for bankruptcy without a 7% across the board tax cut. The idea of providing greater benefits without tax hikes is a myth impossible through policy

5) Tort reform and the end of defensive medicine

The featured research section of my website discusses the true costs of defensive medicine, which are high and staggering. Most studies that indicate these costs are 0.5% of total system costs are flawed econometric studies that poorly measure true indirect effects on health care costs within our American system

My website addresses these issues, and many more, as they related to health policy, comparative health systems and public health. I encourage you to all check the site out and appreciate your visits. Every visit also raises money that goes 100% to charity to fight disease.

The url is:


Amir Satvat

Amir Satvat
MBA in Health Care Management, The Wharton School
MPA in Health Policy and Management, New York University
Former Health Care Investment Banker, Goldman Sachs

Posted by: bsatvat | October 11, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone ever think about the cost of new employees handling the claims for healthcare? If umpteen million people are going to be added to the government policies, who are going to process the claims?

Posted by: Philco1 | October 12, 2009 12:53 AM | Report abuse

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