Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), who ruled single payer “off the table” before he even started considering healthcare reform, is now trying to pressure the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to judge the Baucus health plan financially sound.
- Their problem is in reality the Obama/Baucus Building Blocks plan does not control costs, and every independent analysis shows this.
- The House propoals for "Expanded and Improved Medicare for All" that the White House and Senate have pre-empted off the table do control costs.
Meanwhile, Baucus held a Finance Committee hearing last Wednesday (2/25/09) at which the sole witness was CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf.
According to CongressDaily (2/25), Baucus, other lawmakers, and "some special interest groups have not been particularly pleased with what they view as CBO's conservative scoring of some supposed cost-cutting efforts that are needed to help offset the enormous price tag" of overhauling the health care system under the Baucus plan.
Baucus said if healthcare reform is to pass, the CBO needs to "get ever more creative to find … pathways to get the savings that we have to have." (Edney, CongressDaily, 2/25)
Baucus told the head of CBO at last Wednesday’s hearing that the Congressional Budget Office will play a significant role in efforts to overhaul the U.S. health care system because the agency's cost assessments will "make or break this enterprise," CQ HealthBeat. Experienced observers assert that this is Baucus’ way of pressuring the agency to come up with figures to justify the kind of healthcare reform Baucus wants. Similar pressure in the extreme was placed upon the CBO in the early 1990s when the Clinton health plan was being debated.
The CBO is responsible for “scoring” any legislative proposal for its true costs and savings. CBO has been recognized for the accuracy of its findings and projections and for its non-partisanship. In fact, a 1991 CBO study found that a single payer system in the US could cover all the uninsured at the (then) current level of spending or less because of reduction in administrative costs.
Many recently proposed healthcare plans, similar to the one Baucus says he is drafting, keep private-for-profit health insurance companies in the mix and are based on claiming hugh savings from such things as the introduction of computerized record keeping. These so called savings are then touted as the way the proposed plan can be “paid for.
The CBO has issued a series of recent studies which have found that most savings claimed, in the effort to keep private-for-profit insurance companies in the mix, do not exist. Recent CBO studies of disease management, "medical homes," electronic medical records, comparative effectiveness research, a public plan that competes with the private insurers and others, do not save money as claimed. That is also what numerous peer-review academic research paper have found: Prentice care, Chronic disease management, health IT,,, they are all good things (and done better under the less fragmented more planned single payer plan), but they do not save money in the short or medium term.
Among the plans that Commonwealth/Lewin looked at, only the Stark Plan (standing in, according to Commonwealth, for all versions of Medicare for All-like proposals, including Conyers HR-676) actually saves money for the overall system, the country as a whole. More on the differences between Stark and Conyers and why Commonwealth did not analyze Conyers is here.
This is no surprise really. GAO and CBO found the same thing in the 1990s when they analyzed single payer and found it really controlled costs and saved money. More recently, The Lewin Group has found the same thing repeatedly in analyses of state-ledvel single payer proposals.
Again, even opponents agree: only Single-Payer like plans can actually control overall total costs.
Oh, yeah it also is the only one that:
- is Universal, covers everybody, 100%
- is Comprehensive covers all health care
- Has no endless co-pays, deductibles, out of coverage, no medical bankruptcies
- Is supported by supported by 60% of the American people (outside of the beltway).
But inside the beltway they keep saying it is "off the table."
What are you going to do about it?
Call, write or fax Senator Baucus and tell him we need accurate complete numbers not creative figuring.
Single payer should be on the table and should be given a full and fair hearing by the Senate Finance Committee.
Senator Max Baucus
511 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-9412 (Fax)
It's not enough to talk about the Senate Finance Committee's efforts to block discussion of the cost effectiveness of "single payer." We must contact our own Reps and also members of the Senate Finance Committee. Do it immediately!
Also call the White House.
Insist That Single Payer spokespersons (e.g., President of PNHP, or Quentin Young, David Himmelstein, or Rosanne DeMoro of California nurses) be invited to the upcoming Summit on Health care.
See phone numbers below.
You can leave a phone message for the whole Committee at (202) 224-4515
But individual calls will have a greater impact.
Here are their phone numbers:
Max Baucus, Chair, (202) 224-2651
John D Rockefeller IV (202) 224-6472
Kent Conrad (202) 224-2043
Jeff Bingaman (202) 224-5521
John Kerry (202) 224- 2742
Blanche Lincoln (202) 224-4843
Ron Wyden (202) 224-5244
Charles Schumer (202) 224-6542
Debbie Stabenow (202) 224-4822
Maria Cantwell (202) 224-3441
Bill Nelson (202) 224-5274
Robert Menendez (202) 224-4744
Thomas Carper (202) 224-2441
Edward Kennedy (202) 224-4543
Harry Reid (202) 224-3542
Chuck Grassley ( 202) 224-3744
Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251
Olympia Snowe (202) 224-5344
Jon Kyl (202) 224-4521
Jim Bunning (202) 224-4343
Mike Crapo (202) 224-6142
Pat Roberts (202) 224-4774
John Ensign (202) 224-6244
Mike Enzi (202) 224-3424
John Cornyn (202) 224-2934
Edward Kennedy (202) 224-4543
Harry Reid (202) 224-3542
You can also e-mail but it's a more time-consuming process.
See the Fin. Comm. members web sites at
You can send a note by U.S Mail to Obama's point person on health care who will assist the HHS Secretary.
Sign your name. Print your name and address, at least your city and state.
Mail to: Jeanne Lambrew, Deputy Director
of Health Reform
Send Note by Fax — second best option, at your computer at no cost
1.Go to http://faxzero.com. Enter 2026907203 for the fax number and “Jeanne Lambrew” for the recipient name at “Receiver Information” at the right. Enter your name and your e-mail address at “Sender Information” on the left.
2.Copy the note above and paste it into the large text box at “Fax Information”. Enter the “Confirmation Code” that you see on the screen exactly as you see it displayed.
3.Select “Send Now”.
4.You will receive an e-mail; you must select a link there to confirm your e-mail address before the fax is sent.
5.When the fax gets sent, you will receive an additional e-mail.