To hear Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) talk about it, his committee's health reform plan sounds pretty good. A deal is still being negotiated among Baucus, Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and committee members Kent Conrad (D-ND), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Mike Enxi (R-WY); today, Baucus said the bill will cover 95 percent of Americans by 2015, cost less than $900 billion over ten years, and reduce the federal deficit in the 10th year. (To put the cost into perspective, the deal struck with Blue Dogs on the House Energy and Commerce Committee today brought the pricetag of that plan under $1 tillion.) Matthew Yglesias says this sounds "magical." But it may lack one significant dimension--a public option--as Baucus et al are considering Conrad's proposal for member-owned, co-op health insurance plans, which would stand in for the public option touted by Obama, both in expanding coverage to more Americans and in the economic equation of driving private insurance premiums down through competition. One worry is that, without a strong public option, the cost of insurance and care for individuals won't go down...but Baucus has painted a more optimistic picture of access expansion and cost to government.
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