Obama's Healthcare Plan

OBAMA'S HEALTHCARE PLAN....This is odd. Barack Obama's website is currently featuring an AP story about Obama's healthcare plan. "A copy of his remarks and documents describing the program were obtained by The Associated Press," it tells us.

OK, but since this is actually Obama's own website, couldn't they simply put up a copy of the plan and let us all see it? Why announce it via an AP dispatch?

Whatever. Based on the AP story, though, it sounds like it's a pretty standard take on current conventional healthcare wisdom among Democrats. It relies on private insurance companies, presumably because everyone is convinced nothing can be passed if we piss off insurance companies. There's some kind of play-or-pay tax on businesses: either provide insurance for your employees or else pay into a central fund. Small businesses will go ballistic over this, but I guess it's OK to piss them off. Oddly, there's apparently no personal mandate, which is everyone's favorite healthcare policy prescription du jour, which in turn makes it a little unclear how the whole insurance company thing is going to work.

I guess I'll wait for more details before saying any more. Overall, it sounds OK but not spectacular, yet another take on the Ron Wyden healthcare plan that I'm sort of lukewarm about. And since I'm in the camp that thinks detailed plans like this don't really have much impact on anything anyway, I'm not going to get too upset one way or the other based on all the wonky details.

Still, I sure wish someone had the guts to take on the insurance industry. Wishful thinking, I know.

UPDATE: I just received a fact sheet with a few more details. It doesn't seem to be available on Obama's website yet, but I've placed a copy on the WM site here. I didn't understand this after reading the AP story, but Obama's proposal creates a new public health insurance plan based on the plan currently available to federal employees. If you don't qualify for anything else, you can buy into this plan. If you can't afford it, you get a reduced premium. Private insurance plans will be highly regulated and will be required to offer benefits at least equal to the public plan.

I'll have more later, but there's not much point in trying to rush out an opinion before I've had time to read more details. So I'm going to hold off for now. Ezra has more over at Tapped, but he's still trying to puzzle his way through it too.

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