Majority Leader Senator Reid: Open to Taxing High End Health plans, Wants Bi-Partisan Plan by the Fall
The Senate Majority Leader gives an interview to the National Journal about a wide range of subjects, including Health Care Reform.
His comments are below:
NJ: Reconciliation would give you the authority to do this with 50 votes plus Biden, so a number of moderate Democrats could be off the train as well. Would you be willing to pass something as momentous as health care reform with 50 or 51 votes? Or to be accepted by the public, do you think you need a broader coalition even within your own party, if not among Republicans?
Reid: Well, first of all, one reason I want to do a bipartisan bill is we can do more. If we go to reconciliation, there’s certain things we cannot do, because of the rules that accompany reconciliation. Even if we got everything we wanted with reconciliation, we probably couldn’t do more than 75 percent of what needed to be done. With a bipartisan bill, we can do it all; and I hope we can do it all.
NJ: Do you believe it is essential that the final bill contains a public competitor to private insurance companies, or could it go either way in your mind?
Reid: The answer is yes, I hope we can have a public part.
NJ: Senate Finance Committee Chair-man Max Baucus, D-Mont., has raised the possibility of taxing employer-provided health care. Not eliminating the tax exclusion for it, but putting a cap on it and taxing some of that benefit. Are you open to that idea?
Reid: I think that we would be making a huge mistake by setting boundaries of what we would do or would not do. I think that we should take every opportunity to put everything on the table and then start sorting through it.
NJ: What is the timeline on health care legislation?
Reid: I think we’re going to have to make some progress on this by this fall. This may surprise people, but I think that health care reform is easier than all this global-warming stuff, so health care might jump ahead of that.
It is facinating that Senator Reid is open to taxing the really rich insurance plans, since any tax will drive employers and individuals towards a lower premium plan — like, oh, I dunno, Health Savings Accounts.