Baucus: ‘Committed To Getting Health Care Reform Done’ Soon
The powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is telling colleagues that he is ready to launch a health overhaul proposal.
The Associated Press reports that Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said "I am committed to getting health care reform done - done soon and done right," in a written statement. The AP adds "He is considering making a formal proposal soon to the small group of Senate negotiators who call themselves the 'Bipartisan Six.' Baucus held a nearly two-hour teleconference on Friday with the other five negotiators from his committee. The group has struggled for months to come up with an acceptable bipartisan bill. While careful to leave the door open to a long-sought deal, Baucus clearly signaled the time has come for him to move ahead" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 9/5).
Politico: "By producing a plan one source characterized it as an 'offer' Baucus is signaling to his fellow committee members that the end game is near and they need to gauge whether they can support a bipartisan compromise. The group has been resistant to laying out a proposal until they had reached agreement on all the provisions. The so-called Gang of Six talked by phone for the first time in more than two weeks and decided it will meet on Tuesday when the Senate reconvenes" (Frates, 9/4).
The New York Times: "Many of the ideas expected to be included in the Baucus plan have been aired for weeks among the negotiators and by other lawmakers. But if Mr. Baucus follows through, it would be the first time he had assembled a complete package, an indication of the pressure he is under to produce an agreement."
"Aides warned that details of the Baucus plan could change, but the fundamentals are set. Those knowledgeable about the proposal say it would require most Americans to have health insurance, which they could get from employers or from local insurance exchanges. Employers who did not provide coverage would have to help pay the cost for many of their low-income workers - those who qualify for federal subsidies to buy insurance on their own" (Hulse and Pear, 9/4).
The Washington Post: "The move by Baucus comes at a critical moment for Obama. The president's speech to Congress on Wednesday offers him the choice of preserving liberal ideals in the health-care bill, including the government insurance option that has become the focal point of the debate, or else falling in step with moderates. Neither option presents an easy path. Democrats control both houses of Congress, but moderate Democrats are reluctant to rely on a party-line vote to pass a landmark bill, one that stokes emotions across the ideological spectrum. Republican senators still hold considerable power to obstruct legislation they do not like." (Montgomery and Murray, 9/5).