(ChattahBox)—Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, tasked with drafting health care reform legislation, finally released on Tuesday, his long promised compromise health reform bill and its drawing criticism for appeasing powerful insurance and pharmaceutical interests, as the main author is none other than a former health insurance executive.
And Sen. Baucus, acknowledging his true constituents, delivered the first copy of his health plan to Capitol Hill lobbyists, before providing President Obama and his Senate colleagues with a copy of his health plan proposal.
Max Baucus’ senior aide, Liz Fowler is a former VP for Public Policy and External Affairs at WellPoint, a health insurance company which is the largest member of Blue Cross and Blue Shield. WellPoint has aggressively lobbied against health reform, especially a public option.
The company has recently come under fire for pressuring its employees to lobby against health care reform claiming reform would cause “…tens of millions of Americans to lose their private coverage and end up in a government-run plan.”
According to Firedoglake, “the name Liz Fowler appears as the author in the document properties of the PDF file circulated by Baucus’ staff earlier this week.” However, this comes as no surprise, since Sen. Baucus’ impartiality has already been questioned during this process, as he has benefited from about $3,973,485 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries from 2003 to 2008.
The Baucus health plan excludes a public option, which President Obama championed in his speech in a joint session to Congress Wednesday night, as an important element of health reform.
His plan is also drawing criticism for its many corporate friendly provisions, such as penalizing individuals $3,800 for not purchasing health coverage, while the penalty for businesses is only $400 per employee. The small corporate penalty is only a fraction of the full cost of providing health coverage and would not serve as an incentive to purchase employer-provided health care.
Baucus’ plan is also under fire for its high cost of $850 billion to $900 billion over 10 years, while still not providing health care to every American with a public option.
Baucus is a member of the so called “gang of six” Democrat and Republican senators working to draft a bipartisan health care bill, which has largely stalled due to Republican obstructionism.
Accordingly, Baucus announced this week he planned to proceed with or without, Republican support and introduce a chairman’s mark of his proposed health care bill next week.