KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sens. Gregg, Baucus and Rep. Braley: Health Care Reform Should Happen

News outlets reports on the health care opinions of several lawmakers, including Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa.

Gregg, a three-term Republican senator, "is reaching out to the White House with a plan to overhaul health care that has some key features in common with the Democratic bills passed by the House and Senate," including requiring "everyone over age 18 to get coverage," The Associated Press reports. "But the plan is almost secondary to the approach Gregg is pushing: Start from scratch and work through the goals Republicans and Democrats agree on one by one. ... It's unclear how seriously the Obama administration is taking Gregg, who famously accepted then turned down the commerce secretary nomination. ... [As] of Wednesday, [Gregg] was still not on the invitation list for the televised health care forum Obama will moderate next week" (Ramer, 2/18).

Meanwhile, the Missoulian reports that Baucus, who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, "told a Helena audience Wednesday that he still believes Congress can and should pass a health reform bill, but offered no details of what a compromise measure might include. 'My strong view is that we must pass health care reform,' he said in remarks to the Helena Rotary Club. 'I know some doubt that. But I do not. ... We're going to get it together.'" Baucus added that "he's been 'on the phone with lots of people putting it together, trying to put it together'" (Dennison, 2/17). 

Des Moines Register: Braley "said Wednesday that House Democrats would put themselves at risk of an election-year backlash if they passed the Senate health care bill, which allows special provisions for individual states." Braley also "voiced frustration with President Barack Obama's role in the stalled health care debate. Obama needs to lean on Senate Democrats, and they in turn need to pass a more palatable bill to get the issue moving again, Braley said." He also "said the only way forward on health care is for the Senate to trim the controversial provisions from the bill it passed in December. By invoking a process called budget reconciliation, Senate Democrats could avoid having to pass another health care bill" (Beaumont, 2/18).

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