Baucus Circulates $900 Billion Health Reform Plan To ‘Gang Of Six’
CongressDaily: "In advance of a crucial meeting Tuesday, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus has rolled out a $900 billion healthcare overhaul proposal for the group of senators engaged in negotiations to produce a bipartisan bill. The Baucus plan includes a new fee on insurance companies, expands access to Medicaid and seeks to drum up competition for private insurers in the form of a cooperative rather than a so-called public option, according to sources close to the discussions. ... A source said that the non-profit co-ops would set the benchmark for insurance costs, while transparency provisions would make it difficult for insurance companies to pass the fee on without consumers direct knowledge -- possibly sending those individuals left feeling burnt to the co-ops" (Edney and Noyes, 9/7).
The New York Times: "A similar fee was proposed by several liberal Democrats in July. In making it part of his proposal, Mr. Baucus may help cover the costs of the bill but also risks alienating Republicans whom he is trying to win over. ... The proposal by Mr. Baucus does not include a public option, or a government-run insurance plan, to compete with private insurers, as many Democrats want."
"People familiar with Mr. Baucus's plan said it was calculated to appeal to Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine" (Pear, 9/6).
The Associated Press: "It's unclear whether the fee, designed to create competition in the insurance market, would win support of two key Republicans in the group: Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Enzi of Wyoming. The Baucus proposal reflected many of their priorities, chief among them the decision not to include a government-run plan to compete with private insurers. Democratic sources close to the negotiations, who were not authorized to be quoted by name, disclosed the fee and other details of the Baucus proposal. One source said the proposal included suggestions from all six members."
"The fee is only a piece of a Baucus plan that would establish a new way to purchase coverage for Americans who have trouble getting and keeping health insurance. Americans could keep their own doctors" (Margasak, 9/7).
Politico: "The plan, described by sources close to the negotiations as a 'framework for consideration,' is the first concrete and comprehensive proposal to come out of the bipartisan talks, which have been ongoing since the spring. ... Baucus' plan also is expected to be less generous in terms of subsidies and coverage than [other Democratic] bills which, along with the absence of the public option, is sure to rankle more liberal Democrats" (Budoff Brown, 9/7).
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that "Even as preliminary drafts of [President] Obama's address circulated Sunday, administration officials continued to hold out hope that bipartisan talks in the Senate may provide a road map -- and political cover -- for the direction the president will take Wednesday. 'Let's see what the Finance Committee does,' said one administration aide who is involved in health policy but is not permitted to speak to the media. 'Then we'd have five bills to pull from'" (Connolly, 9/7).