Updated at 4:19 p.m. on May 19.
Are we any closer to consensus on a public health plan after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, presented three options for the committee to consider as part of broader health care reform legislation this year?
The first two options are to have a public plan or not to have one. The third, though, appears to be an attempt at a middle ground. Would it work, and could it win the support of both parties?
Option 1: A Medicare-like option would be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Option 2: Instead of a public insurance option, Congress would expand insurance coverage "through a reformed and better regulated private market."
Option 3: A public option would be administered through multiple regional third-party administrators, and would report to HHS. They would establish networks of doctors and hospitals and negotiate payments.
Baucus and Grassley on Monday released a series of policy options for financing health care reform, including options for changing the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance. These options are viewed as viable money savers to pay for reform. Here are their options, from a committee statement this morning. Are any of them politically viable? What is the best and the worst way to do this?
"The policy options explore five changes to make the exclusion more equitable and efficient. These options include capping the exclusion based on the value of health insurance policy or the income level of the employee eligible for the exclusion. A third option would be to cap the exclusion based on both the value of the health insurance policy and income level. Another option would be to convert the employer-provided health insurance exclusion to an individual tax deduction or credit. The options also consider whether to grandfather in existing plans so that benefits provided under existing collective bargaining agreements are not limited."