Three big names in politics go rogue, brushing aside Democratic Sen. Max Baucus's health care bill today and taking to the op-ed pages to present their own plans instead. They have little in common, other than a distaste for the Baucus bill as it has been written, and a firm belief that their idea is best.
- My Amendment Would Fix the Bill, writes Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) in The New York Times. The problem with the Baucus bill, he says, is that it will leave "more than 200 million Americans with no more options, private or public, than they have today." He proposes a "Free Choice" amendment to the Baucus Bill that he says would introduce consumer choice into the health insurance market:
My plan would actually strengthen the employer-based system by making it possible for even more employers to afford coverage than can today. Employers who offer high-quality health insurance to attract first-rate employees could continue to do so. And employees who like the coverage they have could keep it. Those who don't, however, would be able to shop elsewhere.
- My State Is the Model of Reform, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declares at The Wall Street Journal. Patrick says Massachusetts is, "deeply committed to supporting federal health-care reform," but doesn't mention the Baucus plan at all. Instead, he suggests that reform-minded politicians take a closer look at health care in Massachusetts.
Because of our reform, over 97% of Massachusetts residents are insured the highest rate of coverage of any state in the nation. Our residents now have better access to preventive care in lower cost primary-care settings. Employers have expanded coverage for workers, not retreated as some feared. Families are less likely to be forced into bankruptcy by medical costs. Most importantly, lives have been saved.
- Scrap the Whole Thing and Start Over, writes Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in USA Today. He says the current bill is, "too partisan, too expensive and too big-government for most Americans to support." Hatch says he does want health care reform, just not reform that will break the bank.
At a time when we are drowning in red ink, and government-run programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are headed for financial insolvency, the last thing we need is another big federal spending bill that puts the focus on Washington instead of our families. It is possible to achieve meaningful and bipartisan reform this year. To do that, however, we must be more responsible and realistic in our health care reform initiatives to craft legislation that we all can be proud of.