Wyden’s addition

It’s being billed as a three-senator deal – Senators Max Baucus, Harry Reid and Oregon’s Ron Wyden – but the history demonstrates that this is Wyden’s baby: A change in the Senate version of the health care bill that would dramatically change the health insurance picture for not just a sliver of people, but for most. And in a way that allows for more options.

Essentially, this is an agreement to insert into the health bill the Wyden proposal called “Free Choice.” His office describes it this way:

“Under the Senate legislation as it is currently written, Americans with employer-provided coverage, whose income is below 400 percent of the federal poverty level and whose premiums are between 8 and 9.8 percent of their total income will be exempt from having to purchase health coverage but will not be able to access the exchange to qualify for government assistance to purchase insurance. The agreed to amendment will make it possible for these individuals to convert their tax-free employer health subsidies into vouchers that they can use to choose a health insurance plan in the new health insurance exchanges. The Congressional Budget Office estimates a previous version of this provision will expand coverage to more than a million Americans.”

Wyden’s comment: “While this is just one step in the direction of guaranteeing choices for all Americans, it is a major step because – for the first time – it introduces the concept of individual choice to a marketplace where it has long been foreign.” And “foreign” is a good word choice.

That alone makes Wyden one of the major authors of the bill coming up for Senate voting.

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One Comment

  1. torridjoe said:

    “A change in the Senate version of the health care bill that would dramatically change the health insurance picture for not just a sliver of people, but for most.”

    Actually, because it was sharply scaled back from his original proposal, the estimate is just 1 million people who would switch to the exchange. The number who would be eligible I’m not sure of, but based on the restrictions noted in your piece, it’s almost assured that it wouldn’t change the picture “for most,” but rather for a few, and many fewer than the public option Wyden has only weakly supported.

    November 20, 2009

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