(Bloomberg) — The “bugs” that have plagued the rollout of U.S. health insurance exchanges will be fixed by Dec. 15, said Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, the lead author of the 2010 health care law.
Baucus said earlier this year that he saw a potential “train wreck” occurring if President Barack Obama’s administration didn’t improve efforts to inform the public about the law. The federal exchanges, which opened Oct. 1, have suffered from technical problems in signing up Americans, most of whom are required to have insurance starting in January 2014.
“I have the utmost confidence that every amount of energy is being devoted to solving — getting these patches out to fix the bugs,” Baucus said on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” that aired this weekend. “We’ll find a way.” For coverage to start Jan. 1, signup by Dec. 15 is required.
Baucus, a Montana Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he thought the prospects for his next major initiative — significant changes to the U.S. tax code — were “quite good.”
He said he hoped to release discussion drafts of tax-code revisions by the end of the year.
Baucus, 71, said he’d like to see the top corporate tax rate lowered to the “high 20s,” down from 35% currently, though higher than the 25% target set by his House Republican counterpart, Dave Camp. Obama has called for a 28% rate for most companies and 25% for manufacturers.
Baucus said his plan would provide a “permanent solution” to U.S. international tax rules that encourage companies to leave profits outside the country.
“Frankly, the failure to do reform is hurting the economy,” he said. “There’s no question of that.”
He was less specific about a rate target for individuals. Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has proposed a top rate of 25%, down from today’s 39.6%.
“Look, it’s hard, because there are a lot of provisions that people like a lot, whether it’s charitable deduction or mortgage or state and local, whatnot,” Baucus said. “But, still, I do believe that we can dramatically simplify the code.”
On the Affordable Care Act, Baucus said he has “spent a lot of time” pressing administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, on implementation.
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