Imagine sitting at your desk awaiting a pithy proposalfrom one of your employees and instead, receiving a monstrous 1,000 pagedocument of which just one section read something like this:

"Section 502 of such act (29 USC 1132) is amended insubsection (a) by striking paragraph and all that follows through subsection(c) and inserting paragraph (2), (4), (5), (6) (7) (8), (9), (10), (11), ofsubsection (c) and (2) by re-designating second paragraph (10) and paragraph(12) and by inserting after the first paragraph (10) the following newparagraph."

As much as I'd like to take credit for creativity, Icouldn't make this stuff up.

The above-referenced is one page among 1,018 in thecurrent health care reform proposal circulating in the House that mandatesemployers provide health care for their employees or face a fine.

If I were an employer, I may just surrender and acceptthe penalty rather than attempt to navigate that abyss of government-speak.

Enter Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat and chair ofthe Financial Services Committee, who unveiled last week, a relativelytruncated proposal to extend health care to some 30 million uninsuredAmericans. Baucus' submission comes in at a Cliff Notes-like 233 pages andshaves the 10-year cost of the sweeping revamp from previous plans eitherapproaching, or exceeding, $1 trillion to a mere $856 million.

That apparently is the culmination of one year of effortby the senator to reshape the health care industry, which at a value of $2.5 trillionannually, accounts for about one-sixth of the American economy. Baucus' planwouldbroadly expand Medicaid, andoffer subsidies to both middle-income individuals and families to help them buyinsurance.


The proposal would establish limits on out-of-pocket andcap at 13 percent of household income - excluding co-payments and deductibles -the cost of insurance premiums for those in the middle class who just missqualifying for the new subsidies.

Starting in 2013 - one year after the current administrationis out should they be re-elected for a second term - it would require nearlyall Americans to obtain coverage or face a penalty of up to $3,800 a year forfamilies.

Senators in both parties, however, are questioningwhether at the end of the day insurance will be affordable to the people whoactually need it most.

To pay for the overhaul, which Mr. Baucus has said willmeet Mr. Obama's requirement that it not add to the federal debt, the proposalwould impose a new, 35 percent excise tax on the most expensive group insuranceplans, those costing more than $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families.

In many cases, these would be plans offered throughemployers. So I can only guess under the Baucus plan who would wind up footingthe bill - heavily.

Not for a second should anyone believe that this planlike others won't add to the federal deficit.

But at least it takes less time to wade though it and seeit for what it really is.



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