- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
Sen. Max Baucus: Health law heading for ‘train wreck’
Democrat wary of efforts to implement ‘Obamacare’
A senior Democratic senator who helped write President Obama's health care law stunned administration officials by saying openly he thinks it's headed for a "train wreck."
Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, delivered his tough-love assessment of efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act during a budget hearing that featured Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
From the outset, the senator's terse and pointed questions made it clear that he did not think her agency had done enough to implement key pillars of the law by 2014.
He also said he is "very concerned" by the lack of information among small business and accountants who are "throwing their hands" up over the law.
"I just see a huge train wreck coming down," Mr. Baucus said Wednesday. "You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet."
His comments turned heads because Republicans are typically the ones who openly criticize Mr. Obama's signature domestic achievement.
Mr. Baucus has served in the Senate since 1978 but faces a tenuous battle for re-election in 2014.
Last month, he was among four Democrats from traditionally red states who voted against the Senate Democrats' budget plan for the coming year. And Wednesday, he was among a handful of Democrats who did not support a bill that would expand background checks before certain gun sales signs of just how fragile his political terrain has become.
For her part, Mrs. Sebelius told Mr. Baucus she was "incredibly disappointed" that her requests for more outreach-related resources in a short-term funding plan for 2013 were denied.
"I don't know what he's looking at," Mrs. Sebelius said of Mr. Baucus after the hearing, according to The Associated Press. "But we are on track to fully implement marketplaces in Jan. 2014, and to be open for open enrollment."
Starting next year, Americans without employer-based health insurance will be able to shop for coverage on state-based marketplaces, or "exchanges," through the help of tax credits. About half the states, however, have asked the federal government to set up an exchange for them instead of taking on the task.
Mr. Obama requested $1.5 billion in his fiscal 2014 proposal to help the agency set up exchanges run by the federal government, although it is unclear if Congress will provide it.
Also in 2014, enrollment in the Medicaid program for the poor will be extended to those earning up 138 percent of the federal poverty level in states that opt into the expansion.
Republican opponents who are attempting to chip away at the president's law seized on Mr. Baucus' comments Wednesday. Rep. Scott R. Tipton, Colorado Republican, invoked the Montanan's words during a hearing on the health care law before the House Committee on Small Business.
"The uncertainty is enormous about what will and will not get done," Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, told Mr. Tipton. "I think Sen. Baucus' comments reflect the uncertainty about whether the exchanges will be up and running on time."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- Most Americans OK with Obamacare contraception mandate: study
- Supreme Court upholds Michigan affirmative action ban
- Sebelius not running for Senate, HHS confirms: Report
- Red fox makes a home for himself at the White House: Report
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Washington Redskins' 2014 schedule opens with Texans
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Georgia governor signs bill expanding gun rights
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014