Baucus Worries About Obamacare Becoming a "Huge Train Wreck"

Baucus Worries About Obamacare Becoming a "Huge Train Wreck"
April 17, 2013

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)

Senator Max Baucus was the primary author and framer of President Obama's health care law on the Senate side, shaping much of what became the final structure of PPACA. But now he's becoming one of the most open critics of the implementation of the law, frustrated with the bureaucratic delays which have become a constant drumbeat in the past three years.

Today The Hill reports Baucus let his frustration slip into the open, voicing his serious concerns to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:

"I just see a huge train wreck coming down," Baucus said to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "You and I have discussed this many times, and I don't see any results yet."

Baucus pressed Sebelius for details about how HHS will explain the law and raise awareness of its key provisions, which are supposed to take effect in just a matter of months.

"I'm very concerned that not enough is being done so far - very concerned," Baucus said.

He pressed Sebelius to explain how her department will overcome entrenched misunderstandings about what the healthcare law does. 

"Small businesses have no idea what to do, what to expect," Baucus said.

Citing anecdotal evidence from small businesses in his home state, Baucus asked Sebelius for specifics about how it is measuring public understanding of the law.

"You need data. Do you have any data? You've never given me data. You only give me concepts, frankly," Baucus told Sebelius.

Baucus is facing a competitive reelection fight next year, and Republicans are sure to attack him over his role as the primary author of the healthcare law. 

A messy rollout of the law's major provisions, just months before Baucus faces voters, could feed into the GOP's criticism.

Wednesday's hearing wasn't the first time Democrats — including Baucus — have raised concerns about the implementation effort. But while other lawmakers have toned down their public comments as they've gotten answers from Sebelius, Baucus said Sebelius has not addressed his fears.

"I'm going to keep on this until I feel a lot better about it," Baucus told Sebelius.

This may only be the beginning of Baucus's concerns. Video of the remarks are here.

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)