Health care

Baucus: 'Train wreck' comment needs context

2013-04-18T19:00:00Z 2013-05-07T20:32:59Z Baucus: 'Train wreck' comment needs context

HELENA – Sen. Max Baucus, a key architect of the Affordable Care Act, said Thursday that his “train wreck” comment about the health care law’s implementation was not a condemnation of the law.

Baucus, who made the comment at a Wednesday meeting of the Senate Finance Committee in Washington, D.C., said he was merely saying that many people are confused about the law, and that the Obama administration must do a better job informing people about its benefits.

“This is a good law, but it can’t work if people don’t understand it,” he said in a news release Wednesday after the Finance Committee meeting. “The administration must use every day between now and Oct. 1 to have insurance marketplaces up and running.”

At the meeting, Baucus was addressing U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and said he’s concerned about the public’s lack of understanding of key elements of the law that take effect in October and January.

He said he sees “a huge train wreck coming down” if the public is unaware of the law’s benefits and requirements.

Starting Oct. 1, people without health insurance can sign up to buy policies via an Internet marketplace – and get federal subsidies to help with the purchase, if they’re eligible. All U.S. citizens are supposed to have insurance by 2014 or face a potential tax penalty.

Baucus said he traveled Montana extensively this month and met with many business owners and people who had questions about how the law works.

Mike Fierberg, a spokesman in Denver for HHS’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said Thursday his office is planning outreach activities in Montana and other states, and that $600,000 will be available to hire and train “navigators” in Montana to help explain the law.

Groups will apply to the agency for grants to train navigators, which will travel the state and help people understand how to sign up for health insurance on a new state Internet marketplace, he said.

“We have a lot of people who are going to be eligible, and most don’t know they are eligible, and many of them have no experience with health insurance whatsoever,” Fierberg said. “Education and outreach is going to be very, very important.”

The federal government is building Montana’s Internet health insurance marketplace, which is supposed to be launched Oct. 1.

“We believe we’re going to be on time, on schedule and that everything will be up and running when it’s supposed to be,” Fierberg said.

State Auditor Monica Lindeen, whose office regulates insurance, also said Thursday her office will do what it can to help health insurers, brokers, insurance agents and consumers – but that her office hasn’t been given any additional resources for that purpose.

Lindeen said she had pushed for the state to build its own insurance Internet marketplace, but the 2011 Legislature rejected that request.

Some Republicans at the Montana Legislature also seized on Baucus’ “train wreck” comments Wednesday and Thursday, as they reiterated their opposition to accepting federal Medicaid money to expand coverage for low-income Montanans.

House Speaker Mark Blasdel, R-Somers, said the comments echo Republicans’ concerns that elements of the federal health care law won’t work and should be resisted.

But a spokeswoman for Baucus said Thursday he was neither expressing doubts about the law nor suggesting any problems with Medicaid expansion.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. HarrietWScott
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    HarrietWScott - March 25, 2015 5:21 pm
    We cannot deny the great purpose of education and knowledge in our life because only with the help of education we can develop good qualities and skills in our self as well as we can enhance our abilities in the best way. So australian law assignment help is good and we become the active and healthy member of the society and nation.
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    COMMON SENSE - April 20, 2013 12:21 am
    Hey, don't you worry there Max, we'll get you a good job selling used cars!
  3. wjw33
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    wjw33 - April 19, 2013 6:04 pm
    Hi Max,
    Remember how you arranged the funding for the Nature Conservancy...billion dollar tax credit...they don't pay taxes so the IRS issued a $500million cash refund, used in a MT land one noticed or cared...almost no was long have you been in DC?...I'm an idiot but I smell another windfall with the Affordable Heath Care Act...for Insurance Companies...why won't it cover adult dental? eyes and teeth...eyes and teeth...just so the Insurance\Health Conglomerates don't get all of the $trillion (why stop at a $trillion?)
    Thanks Max...I'm coming for your's an uphill battle...but I'm hungry...did you get the Canadian report on the AOF?
    New Liberty Party
  4. Fenwoody
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    Fenwoody - April 19, 2013 5:04 pm
    Looks like Max is in full "campaign mode" and trying to recant his own words that might be used against him. After his Senate vote against the proposed bipartisan gun regulations for background checks this week, and now trying to deny his role in implementing a national health insurance program that "gives the ranch to the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, Max's mouth has him in real trouble. He sure won't get any support or $$$$ from the Democratic National Senatorial Committee. Sounds like "Max for Montana" has changed to "Max for Max." Maybe if he would move his home back to Montana (from his new house near DC) and start representing Montanans, he would begin to understand our disgust with his career lobby-loving, money-hungry, fence-straddling activities. He is a shame to Montana and the US Senate and ought to simply resign and begin openly consulting for the health insurance industry. Good riddance!
  5. Bones
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    Bones - April 19, 2013 3:00 pm
    Care is already rationed.
  6. dave ajou
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    dave ajou - April 19, 2013 10:54 am
    Max must be taking his damage control coaching from Williams. Another lame attempt to have it both ways.
  7. montanamuralist
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    montanamuralist - April 19, 2013 9:36 am
    Potter Party using Max comments for an excuse to reject federal Medicaid money under the Affordable Care Act is typical of their cutting off their nose to spite their face syndrome for which there is no cure. Certainly Max is in CYA mode. Many of us who support the law felt he ( Max) did a poor job in some of the details in the implementation and in the way it was delayed over such a long period. He was the one that set that in the bill and now he is complaining about his own criteria. Typical self serving politician. My only hope is that someone will step up and run against him in the primary next year because the other choice will be Max or a Republican who belongs to a party that have shown they only care about the elite and their corporate choice for the average citizen cause Max seems to be in the pocket of the insurance industry. Whole thing stinks and Max should just retire and let someone run who is going to stand on their principles.
  8. rooter
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    rooter - April 19, 2013 9:25 am
    I don't think anybody REALLY knows what this law is about . It's a learn-as-you-go kind of thing.
    I'm not too optimistic.
  9. idiot state
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    idiot state - April 19, 2013 8:36 am
    Who wants to bother to read this stuff? It's not "a good law" Senator Baucus, and no amount of more money spending throwing cash at a government bureacracy to "educate" us is going to change that. It's a lousy law, unworkable, and we'll continue to try to get it tossed out. Thanks, by the way: I love the way my insurance premiums have skyrocketed. I'm gonna love my rationed care, too!!
    Report Abuse
    COMMON SENSE - April 19, 2013 6:30 am
    Way to walk the line, there Max. This idiot clearly has no interest in serving his community, he's clearly in CYA mode. His only interest is in his cushy lifestyle that his job affords him and this is clear evidence that he'll say whatever he thinks you want to hear just to keep his job & collection of ivory back scratches. Come election time, let's send ol'Max to the back of the unemployment line.
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