President Obama is giving his speech on health reform right now. And the White House has just posted -- for the first time -- a detailed health reform plan. The highlights:
- Includes a public option that must be funded by its own premiums
- Includes an employer mandate for larger businesses
- Individual mandate with hardship waivers
- Beginning next year, offers more affordable options for patients with pre-existing conditions. For the rest of the market, most new insurance options won't be available until 2013.
- Reaches across the aisle through a commitment to malpractice reform
- Decreases drug costs by 50 percent for seniors in the Medicare "donut hall"
The president is saying in his speech that progressives should remember that the public option is just a "means to an end" -- not a fix-all -- and that they should "remain open" to other ideas, such as co-operatives. So this plan should really be understood just as a jumping-off point for negotiations with Congress.
It also doesn't mention some key issues. For example, at what income level should people no longer receive government subsidies to buy insurance? Max Baucus says 300 percent of poverty. Progressives like 400 percent. And who should determine exactly what services are provided by insurance plans after reform? Insurance companies? A public council of medical experts? Lots up in the air.