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Finance Committee Kickoff

I attended the first Finance Committee mark up today, where each Senator gave an opening statement prior to the start of tomorrow’s amendment process. Some of the more interesting developments included:

– Senator Grassley’s (R) newfound argument against an individual mandate suggesting a new reinsurance program as an alternative, and also showing concern that new taxes on the health care industry will simply be passed on to the consumer.

– Senator Schumer (D) citing a study finding that 94% of current insurance markets are highly concentrated with little competition.

– Senator Conrad (D) citing a study finding the United States ranking last in preventable death rates among the 19 industrial countries.

-Olympia Snowe (R) outlining several of her amendments including (1) An expedited process to allow larger employers to enter the Health Insurance Exchange, (2) Increasing the definition of small business to 100 employees in order for more businesses to qualify for insurance subsidies, (3) Establishing a public option trigger in states if a level of affordability and insurance coverage is not reached, (4) Scaling the ‘affordability test’ in order for more middle-income people to qualify for the Exchange.

Be sure to check out this little gem from Will Ferrel, et al. if you haven’t already had the chance.