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Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D – Montana) finally released his long-awaited version of health care reform.  The 233-page document was supposed to be a bipartisan effort but, so far, is not generating any Republican support and, if anything, has only added fuel to the fiery debate on both sides of the aisle as the Democratic base will probably not be happy with this plan either.

The Baucus plan creates private insurance exchanges at the State level rather than a public option, a major break with core Democrats who are demanding a public option.

The Baucus model also expands Medicaid coverage for lower-income individuals and families who are not elderly and not yet eligible for Medicare.

Without a public option, Baucus’ plan will force American citizens and legal residents to purchase insurance from a private company; this mandate will penalize those who do not obtain insurance by hitting the uninsured with an excise tax, the fine varying according to income level.

President Obama has indicated that he would prefer a plan that brings together Democrats and Republicans and, therefore, has minimized the importance of the public option.  But, by insisting on a bipartisan bill, Obama risks losing his base and the support of many in his own party.

By caving on the public option, Obama and Baucus are giving into the special interests who want total control of America’s health care:  these big-money special interests contribute to members of Congress, including Baucus,  to influence legislation and a Federal Law requiring every adult citizen to purchase their products (or be punished by a penalty tax) would be exactly the kind of  “reform” these special interests would want!

Obama – and Baucus too – need to realize that the Republicans aren’t going to agree with anything the Democrats do, no matter what.  It’s obvious they’re the party of “no” and have no ideas or options of their own.

The problem is that, by playing into Republican demands in the spirit of bipartisanship to look like they’re willing to work with them, Obama and Baucus risk having a final bill which, worse than just watered-down, will actually be worse for Americans than the current health-care mess we have now!

Americans voted for Obama and the Dems because the majority of us wanted reform and to clean up the mess created by special interests and big money in health-care, banking, and other industries.

If Obama doesn’t stand firm here – requiring the public option so that we have real reform – this will send a signal, not just to the Republicans, but to special interests, that his administration will cave into manipulation, propaganda, and oppostion.  This will ruin any future reform in banking, the environment, energy, or anything else.

Due for markup beginning on September 22, this will definitely not be the final Senate bill; each part of this bill will be debated and voted on; these sections will either be amended, accepted, or removed.  Read the plan for yourself.  The Democrats should scrap most of this bill and go back to basics with or without the Republicans!  Put in the public option or, better yet, create a single payer system!

Link to Baucus Plan:  pdf file – Chairman’s Mark America’s Healthy Future Act 2009: NY Times