UPDATE: In a press release, Senator Baucus clarifies his train wreck remark to say that he did not in any way mean the law, but the Administration’s implementation and education.
To say he is the author of the Affordable Care Act may be a slight exaggeration, but Senator Max Baucus was a major influence on the legislation that became the ACA. From his perch as Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, the Montana Senator oversaw a number of the compromises that form the centerpiece of the change to the U.S. health care system.
At a committee hearing on Wednesday, Baucus told Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius that he’s worried about a “huge train wreck coming down” if HHS’s outreach doesn’t improve and that constituent small employers have told him they “have no idea what to expect” from the law.
Baucus zeroed in on the Exchanges and the fact that, as we’ve shared on this site, major deadlines are approaching without noticeable progress in some areas. In addition, Baucus expressed frustration that his efforts to receive information from HHS about the navigator program have gone unanswered. When told that HHS would try to expand outreach but could not provide specifics, Baucus responded “We need data. You never give me any data. You give me concepts, frankly.”
The Senator is up for reelection in 2014, which may be a reason for his aggressive questioning on behalf of his constituents. However, the fact that he is willing to go on record with these concerns makes it clear that the approaching deadlines for the Exchanges are even worrying the creators of the law.