Breaking News Bar
posted: 4/17/2013 1:43 PM

Top Dem sees 'train wreck' for Obama health law

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, who helped write President Barack Obama's health care law stunned administration officials Wednesday, saying he thinks it's headed for a "train wreck."

      Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, who helped write President Barack Obama's health care law stunned administration officials Wednesday, saying he thinks it's headed for a "train wreck."
    ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A senior Democratic senator who helped write President Barack Obama's health care law stunned administration officials Wednesday, saying openly he thinks it's headed for a "train wreck."

"I just see a huge train wreck coming down," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., told Obama's health care chief during a routine budget hearing that suddenly turned tense.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

Baucus is the first top Democrat to publicly voice fears about the rollout of the new health care law, designed to bring coverage to some 30 million uninsured Americans through a mix of government programs and tax credits for private insurance that start next year.

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.

But half the states, most of them Republican-led, have refused to cooperate in setting up the infrastructure of Obama's law. Others, like Montana, are politically divided. The overhaul law provided that the federal government would step in and run the new markets if a state failed to do so. Envisioned as a fallback, federal control now looks like it will be the norm in about half the country, straining the resources of the department Sebelius leads.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here