Prez Contender Pawlenty: Baucus Bill ‘Bad For The Country’

Carrie Devorah / WENN/Newscom

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination, wrote a column today criticizing the Senate Finance Committee bill as a “a tax and spending bill masquerading as a health reform bill.”

Pawlenty has been upping his national visibility with a new PAC, a planned trip to Iowa and other comments on health care reform, including calling the Democrats’ plans “a manure spreader in a windstorm.”In today’s column, he said the bill includes too many new taxes, including on medical device companies, a big industry in Minnesota. He also claimed Minnesota should be a model for reform.

Pawlenty said he supports health care reform, and urged Congress to “focus on the forces driving up health care costs.”

Health care reform “cannot be accomplished without addressing the root cause of America’s health care crisis, something the Baucus bill fails to do,” he wrote. He did not spell out what that root cause is, however.

Late update: A spokesman for Pawlenty’s political action committee took issue with the last statement above.

“The whole point of the piece is that health care is at a crisis because the increasing costs are out of control,” Alex Conant told TPMDC via email.

So the “root cause of America’s health care crisis” mentioned above, Conant contends, is the increasing cost of health care. I asked Conant what the “forces driving up health care costs” are, and am awaiting a response.

Later update: Also today, Pawlenty announced a series of proposed health care reforms he’ll bring to the Minnesota legislature next year. The plan includes allowing Minnesota residents to purchase insurance plans in other states and requiring people making at least 133 percent of the federal poverty level to pay for some of their costs under MinnesotaCare. It would also make consumers pay more if they go to clinics rated as poor quality and high cost.

Even later update: Conant just got back to TPMDC and describes the forces driving up health care costs thusly: “Well, all the reforms that he suggested address those forces: Medical liability, lack of competition, lack of transparency, etc…”