Baucus Unveils Health Care Bill

Compromise legislation would cost $856 million over 10 years
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2009 9:42 AM CDT
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., speaks with the press following a meeting on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
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(Newser) – Max Baucus has officially unveiled his 223-page, $856 billion health care bill, intended to be a blueprint for a bipartisan compromise on reform, though GOP backing has evaporated, the Wall Street Journal reports. That $856 billion price tag is a surprise, lower than the $1 trillion-plus cost estimates of earlier versions. Not a surprise: The bill doesn’t include a public option, replacing it with a series of nonprofit insurance cooperatives.

The bill requires all individuals to buy insurance, devoting up to 13% of their income to doing so, not including co-pays or deductibles; subsidies would kick in for those who don't make enough to buy coverage. The bill would also expand Medicaid, and ban many unpopular insurance practices, such as denying coverage due to preexisting conditions. It would extend coverage for an estimated 30 million uninsured Americans. But the bill has no Republican support, and many Democrats worry that it won’t make care affordable enough.