Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Baucus Caucus

(Almost) Everything that's wrong with the Baucus Plan, in TWO MINUTES!

Former CIGNA insurance exec Wendell Potter (come late to a conscience, but better than never, I guess) inscribed an "open letter" to Baucus (via DownWithTyranny) which lays out what the senator(s) should do if he were to decide that he works for his constituents rather than for his campaign donors. I take Potter's recommendations to be minima:
*Create a grant program for state insurance departments to help them better enforce market rules and protect consumers.

*Establish a federal role for private health insurance oversight and provide resources for the Department of Health and Human Services to hire expert staff to carry out these functions and coordinate with state regulators.

* Require health insurance plans to disclose clear, accurate, and timely information on their policies and practices to ensure that they do not circumvent new federal health insurance regulations.

* Add needed transparency requirements such as: establishing fair grievance and appeals procedures by health insurers; clarifying information for health professionals and freeing up time for patients by establishing transparency standards relating to reimbursement arrangements between health plans and providers; and requiring advance notice of plan changes so consumers get what they pay.

*Establish America’s Health Insurance Trust, a nonprofit, independent, consumer-driven organization that will evaluate and give ratings to all health insurance products offered through the National Health Insurance Exchange. Annual insurance product ratings will be based on factors such as affordability, adequacy, transparency, consumer satisfaction, provider satisfaction, and quality.

* Ensure that ombudsman offices in each state are open to consumers at all stages of the appeal process to allow for early intervention and increase the likelihood of successful appeals.

Health insurance reform requires that we not only create strong new consumer protections. It also requires that those rules be effectively enforced. American families and businesses must have health insurance that is accountable to them, not to Wall Street.
Potter's recommendations are based on the Baucus committee's AHFA, which is going to be the plan which gets to Obama's desk, in whatsoever form it ultimately takes.

Imho: No "plan" which does NOT extract the profit motive from the provision of health insurance is a designated failure, from the first instant.

Oh, and that soi disant "public option?"

Yeah, right!


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