Baucus Health Care Plan: Bye-Bye Public Option

The wait is over: the Senate Finance Committee's formal health care bill has finally arrived! Chairman Max Baucus unveiled the Senate version, "America's Healthy Future Act of 2009," which sounds eerily like a breakfast cereal. The 10-year $856 billion Senate plan is a $44 billion savings from the number President Obama quoted last week in his prime time health reform speech.

Here's my first impression of what you need to know about the new bill:

What's in: extend health insurance to tens of millions of Americans not now covered; creation of a network of nonprofit health insurance cooperatives; limits on nasty insurance company practices.

What's out: the public option

What's changed: employers with more than 50 full-time workers would pay a $400 fee for each employee if they don't offer health insurance. The fee would be triggered if any employees apply for federal tax credits to buy coverage. This is a significant reduction from the House bill that would penalize companies up to 8% of payroll if they didn't offer insurance.

What's not clear: Who's going to pay and whether or not the plan will add "one dime" to the deficit.

This post originally appeared The Financial Decoder blog on CBS Jill Schlesinger is the Editor-at-Large for CBS Prior to the launch of MoneyWatch, she was the Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. In her infancy, she was an options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York.
  • Jill Schlesinger On Twitter» On Google+»

    View all articles by Jill Schlesinger on CBS MoneyWatch »
    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.