Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wydening the insurance exchange

Senator Ron Wyden has taken a slice out of the widely respected but off-the-table Wyden-Bennett health care reform bill, which would put all Americans in a national insurance exchange, to propose now that all Americans share the opportunity to opt into an insurance exchange:

I believe there is a way to work with the present employer-based system to guarantee that all Americans have choices, and I am proposing it in an amendment to the latest Senate health care bill. My amendment, called Free Choice, would let everyone choose his health insurance plan.

It would impose only one requirement on employers — that they offer their employees a choice of at least two insurance plans, one of them a low-cost, high-value plan. Employers could meet this requirement by offering their own choices. Or they could let their employees choose either the company plan or a voucher that could be used to buy a plan on the exchange. They could also simply insure all of their employees though the exchange, at a discounted rate.

Could this widening of the exchange pool serve some of the purpose of a public option, e.g., by providing critical mass to health care co-ops? And shouldn't that partial individualizing of the health care market appeal to Republicans?

Ezra Klein reports that Obama met with Wyden and Bennett as well as with Jay Rockefeller. Could a final bill staple together Baucus's deficit-reducing funding mechanism, the bigger subsidies that Rockefeller wants (as do liberal Democrats generally), and Bennett's "privatizing" amendment? Could compromise actually improve the bill that becomes law? We can dream, can't we?

No comments:

Post a Comment