Alien-ating Illegals – Baucus RX Plan Bans Lawbreakers
By Carl Campanile
The New York Post, September 17, 2009
The Senate budget chief threw his own long-awaited health-care reform plan into the mix yesterday – and it includes tough measures to block illegal immigrants from getting aid.
The bill, which carries a price tag of $856 billion, would also impose new taxes on insurance firms and health-coverage providers to help offset costs.
The plan, submitted by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), calls for a citizenship-verification program in order for applicants to receive federal tax credits.
Democrats in the House rejected a nearly identical amendment proposed by Republicans.
The controversy over illegal aliens triggered South Carolina GOP Rep. Joe Wilson's infamous 'You lie!' shout at President Obama during his address to Congress last week, when the commander-in-chief declared illegal aliens would be ineligible for insurance.
The Senate plan is likely to be the last health-care proposal put on the table. Now, House and Senate members, along with the White House, will step up negotiations for a compromise program that can win enough support for passage.
The Baucus measure also would require virtually all Americans to obtain coverage. Those who don't would face fines up to $950 per person or $3,800 per family – with exemptions for hardship cases.
The plan would ease income-eligibility requirements to enable millions more citizens to qualify for Medicaid, the public health-insurance program for the needy.
Like the House proposals, it sets up state insurance exchanges to make it easier for small businesses and individuals to get health care. Tax credits would be offered for individuals making less than 400 percent of the poverty level.
But unlike the House bills, the Senate plan rejects creating a new government insurance program to compete for patients. Obama, while supporting the so-called 'public option,' says it is not essential.
The Senate finance plan would require that insurers provide basic coverage to all comers, and specifically prohibits denying or limiting coverage to enrollees with pre-existing conditions.
The Baucus bill would take a bite out of insurers and medical providers to cover the 10-year costs. It would impose a whopping 35 percent excise tax on expensive insurance-company plans that provide at least $21,000 in family coverage and $8,000 for individual plans.
Additional annual taxes also would be levied on insurance providers, drug companies, labs and medical-device manufacturers.
Meanwhile, the legislation requests slashing $500 billion from Medicare, the public insurance for the elderly. Obama and the Democrats insist the cut would not restrict services.
But the recommendation has drawn a firestorm of opposition from seniors.
The fate of ObamaCare is still is unclear. The president is getting hit from both the left and right over various issues.
Liberals are furious that Obama and Senate Democrats have backed away from offering a public-insurance program.
'It should not be news to my friends in the Senate that their plan is simply too weak to pass the House of Representatives,' said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn).
Immigrants on fringes in debate's foreground
By Hiran Ratnayake and Ginger Gibson
The News Journal (Wilmington, DE), September 17, 2009