Tag Archives: sen. max baucus

Evaluation of nonprofits’ charity care continues

If you’re keeping a list of issues that have been rejuvenated through inclusion in the Baucus bill, you can safely add Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s crusade to keep nonprofit hospitals accountable for the provision of adequate amounts of charity care. According to the Chicago Tribune‘s Bruce Japsen, the proposed bill includes Grassley’s provision to “improve the community service, transparency and billing practices of nonprofit hospitals.”

From Japsen’s story:

“For now, there’s no minimum percentage requirement for charity care and community benefit,” Grassley said in a statement on Baucus’ proposal. But Grassley is not ruling out a required level in the future, saying it needs “more study.”

“I agree with groups that take their charitable mission seriously … that a percentage payout requirement would become a ceiling, not a floor, like the private foundation payout of generally five percent,” Grassley said in a memo Thursday. “Instead, we need a formula that would maximize expenditures for charitable purposes.”

The Washington Post‘s Kathleen Day, meanwhile, reported on the results of a Grassley-backed Senate investigation into the charity care provided by nonprofit hospitals:

The investigators found that while federal law requires charity care in exchange for tax-exempt status, a 37-year-old IRS rule implementing the law is so vague that nonprofit hospitals have been able to exploit it by offering some free services but often little aid to the poorest people in their communities.

Nonprofits frequently charged higher prices to poorer people with no health insurance than they did to better-off patients who had coverage, researchers found. At the same time, many of the hospitals’ top executives enjoyed generous perks such as paid country club memberships and stays at expensive hotels.

Lieberman picks apart Baucus changes

In her latest post on CJR.org, AHCJ immediate past president Trudy Lieberman picks apart the Baucus bill, with a special focus on the Montana senator’s latest changes. Lieberman pays special attention to Baucus’ concessions, and takes care to point out exactly who benefits and how.

Her assessment of the bill’s provision insurers to vary rates based on age (within limits) is particularly incisive:

In exchange for issuing policies to sick people, insurers get to jack up premiums for older people, a kind of proxy for medical underwriting. Baucus essentially allows companies to charge older people more for their coverage. Initially, he wanted to charge them five times more than a younger person, but now he suggests letting them charge four times more. A 58-year-old, for example, who has lost employer coverage and is struggling to pay the premiums for an individual policy may not see that as much of a gift.

Bloggers try to connect Baucus plan, WellPoint

An analysis by blogger Kevin Conner over at LittleSis seems to point to connections between Montana Sen. Max Baucus’ plan for health reform and insurance heavyweight WellPoint. While nothing has been set in stone, they are the sort of sprawling connections that should be explored and accounted for as the Baucus plan is evaluated, especially in light of the Senator’s well-documented financial connections to the health industry (Hat tip to NPR Health Blog‘s Scott Hensley).

Sen. Max Baucus

Sen. Max Baucus

A glance at the proposal’s Microsoft Word Metadata shows the name of Liz Fowler, a former WellPoint VP who now works for Baucus on the Senate Finance Committee. Furthermore, Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi’s former chief health adviser, Stephen Northrup, is now WellPoint’s top reform lobbyist. Enzi is a member of Baucus’ bipartisan “Gang of Six,” a group that helped shape the Healthy Future Act. It’s also interesting that, according to Conner, “key provisions in the Baucus plan apparently draw on industry-inspired legislation first introduced by Enzi in 2006, while Northrup was still his chief health aide.”

According to their Web site, “LittleSis is a project of Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit nonpartisan research and educational organization focused on government and corporate accountability.”

Baucus releases ‘Healthy Future Act’

As expected, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D‐Mont.) released that committee’s health reform proposal, called America’s Healthy Future Act, today. In a press release Baucus says, “We worked to build a balanced, common‐sense package that ensures quality, affordable coverage and doesn’t add a dime to the deficit.”

CNN breaks down key points of the bill. On NPR’s health blog, Scott Hensley points to what’s included and what isn’t. The New York Times‘ David M. Herszenhorn blogged from Baucus’ press briefing. William Branigin, Lori Montgomery and Shailagh Murray of The Washington Post report that Baucus has not been able to get a public endorsement from any Republicans, despite “more than 100 hours of meetings over several weeks with a bipartisan group of Senate health-care negotiators known as the ‘Gang of Six’.” Derek Thompson of The Atlantic asks “Does anybody actually like the Baucus health care bill?

Senate committee holds health care reform hearing

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mt.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are holding the second of three conversations on reforming health care. CSPAN is streaming the hearing.

More than a dozen representatives from The Heritage Foundation, AARP, Families USA, the Kaiser Foundation, America’s Health Insurance plan and other organizations are expected to offer their opinions on how best to expand health care coverage & programs.