There are five big unsolved problems.
- The public option. We've still got these crappy co-ops. Funding for the co-ops has been boosted a little, but they're not really a Public Option By Another Name.
- Affordability. Baucus has cut premium maximums from 13% to 12% of income. Like I said, peanuts. We've really got to get down to 7-8% of income before we're in the realm of affordability. Ron Wyden is enlisting Doug Elmendorf to bring this point home; a middle-class household could still end up with out-of-pocket expenses close to 20% of income, when you include permiums and cost-sharing.
- Premium flexibility. The age variation has been lowered from 5:1 to 4:1. It should be 2:1.
- The free-rider provision. It's still there. It should be an employer mandate.
- Reforming the large-group/self-insured markets. Jay Rockefeller offered an amendment to force these markets to abide by the same reforms as the small-goup and individual markets. I thought I heard someone recite changes that would set some standards on employer-sponsored insurance, but I can't find it. There's a tension between the promise to let people keep what they have, and the promise to make insurance better overall, but at least in the long term the regulations ought to be harmonized.