KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sen. Baucus’ Retirement Leaves Door Open For Sen. Wyden On Health Issues

Sen. Max Baucus' announcement Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2014 could open the door for Sen. Ron Wyden to become the most powerful Senate Democrat on health care issues. Some groups are claiming victory on the retirement announcement while others look at what Wyden could accomplish.

The New York Times: Baucus, Powerful Montana Democrat, Will Leave Senate
If Democrats do keep control of the Senate next year, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon would be next in line for the chairmanship of the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction not only over taxes but health care and entitlements like Medicare. If anything, Mr. Wyden has been more of an iconoclast on the committee’s issues than Mr. Baucus, teaming with Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, on a drastic overhaul of Medicare that still rankles many Democrats (Weisman, 4/23).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Baucus Vows To Keep Watch On Health Law Rollout Before Leaving Senate
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus stunned his colleagues Tuesday when he announced he would not seek a seventh term next year. But don't expect him to go quietly. Implementation of the 2010 health care law is a top priority for the Montana Democrat, as is overhauling the tax code, tackling the nation's debt and pushing 'job-creating trade agreements' through the Senate, Baucus said in a statement (Carey, 4/24).

Los Angeles Times: Montana's Max Baucus Announces Retirement From The Senate
Baucus first went to Washington in 1974 as part of a post-Watergate wave of Democrats. Despite his rank, he was never one to adhere to party lines. He angered many Democrats by working closely with former President George W. Bush on tax and Medicare legislation, and some blamed him for complicating the passage of President Obama's sweeping health care law. Although he voted for the measure, Baucus has criticized its implementation (Barabak, 4/23).

The Washington Post: Baucus Retirement Opens Way For Sweeping Legislative Changes
Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax issues, said his decision not to seek reelection frees him from the demands of a campaign and will also allow him to focus on new trade agreements and implementation of the Obama health care initiative, which he played a major role in drafting (Kane and Montgomery, 4/23).

Politico: Max Baucus Will Continue To Be ACA’s Driving Force
Sen. Max Baucus said Tuesday that he’ll retire at the end of 2014, but he could still deepen his already considerable imprint on federal health policy through the rollout of the health reform law this fall and the entitlement battles likely to rage as the debt ceiling deadline approaches this summer. And Baucus’s departure could thrust the gavel of the Finance Committee into the hands of Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a sometimes-rebellious Democrat, just one year after the health care reform law’s major programs go into effect (Haberkorn, 4/24).

The Hill: Tea Party Groups Claim Victory Over Baucus, ObamaCare
The two leading Tea Party groups cheered Sen. Max Baucus's decision to retire as a major blow against ObamaCare, a law the Montana Democrat helped craft. Health care reform has been a unifying issue for Tea Party activists since 2009. One group, Tea Party Patriots, jumped on Baucus's announcement Tuesday and tied it to his recent warning that the law could become a "huge train wreck” (Viebeck, 4/23).

CQ HealthBeat: What Would Ron Wyden In Finance Committee Chair Mean For Health Care?
If Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden takes over as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, a partisan Democrat also known for forging dramatic and high-profile partnerships with Republicans when it comes to health care would be at the helm of the panel. Wyden has a long history in delving into the complexities of health care, dating back to his 20s when he was executive director of the Gray Panthers in Oregon, where he advocated for the well-being of the elderly (Norman, 4/23).

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