Flashback: Top Dem Sen. Baucus Cautions of 'Train Wreck' for Obama Health Law
from the Associated Press; 4/18/13; FoxNews.com
A senior Democratic representative who helped compose President Obama's healthcare law dazed organization authorities Wednesday, saying straightforwardly he thinks it's set out toward a "train wreck."
"I simply see a tremendous train wreck approaching," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., told Obama's medicinal services head amid a routine budget hearing that abruptly turned strained.
Baucus is the primary top Democrat to openly voice fears about the rollout of the new law, intended to convey coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans through a blend of government projects and expense credits for private protection that begin one year from now. The six-term Democrat is also expected to face a tough re-election in 2014. Baucus is still trying to recover from approval ratings that nosedived amid displeasure with the health care law in his home state.
Normally low-key and supportive, Baucus challenged Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Wednesday's hearing.
He said he's "very concerned" that new health insurance marketplaces for consumers and small businesses will not open on time in every state, and that if they do, they might just flop because residents don't have the information they need to make choices.
"The administration's public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act deserves a failing grade," he told Sebelius. "You need to fix this."
Responding to Baucus, Sebelius pointedly noted that Republicans in Congress last year blocked funding for carrying out the health care law, and she had to resort to raiding other departmental funds that were legally available to her.
The administration is asking for $1.5 billion in next year's budget, and Republicans don't seem willing to grant that either.
"I don't know what he's looking at," Sebelius told reporters following her out of the room after Baucus adjourned the hearing. "But we are on track to fully implement marketplaces in Jan. 2014, and to be open for open enrollment."
That open-enrollment launch is only months away, Oct. 1. It's when millions of middle-class consumers who don't get coverage through their jobs will be able to start shopping for a private plan in the new marketplaces, or exchanges. They'll also be able to find out if they qualify for tax credits that will lower their premiums. At the same time, low-income people will be steered to government programs, mainly an expanded version of Medicaid.
Be that as it may, a large portion of the states, a large portion of them Republican, have declined to participate in setting up the framework of Obama's law. Others, such as Montana, are politically separated. The update law gave that the central government would venture in and run the new markets if a state neglected to do as such. Imagined as a fallback, government control now seems as though it will be the standard in about a large portion of the nation, straining the assets of the office Sebelius leads.