Health Care Reform Bill In Finance Committee Could Be Finalized Friday
The Senate Finance Committee is preparing to finalize a health bill while Democratic leaders are signaling that floor consideration will follow quickly.
The Associated Press/The Boston Globe: "'We're coming to closure,' said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the committee chairman, as President Barack Obama lobbied at least one wavering Democrat by phone to swing behind the measure. Baucus said, 'It's clear to me we're going to get it passed,' although he sidestepped a question about possible Republican support." The seemingly only possible Republican who may support a bill is Sen. Olympia Snowe, of Maine. The bill includes consumer protections like limiting deductibles, denials on pre-existing conditions and co-pays (Espo, 10/1).
The Associated Press in a second story: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday the Senate debate could begin the week of Columbus Day, Oct. 12, even though lawmakers are scheduled to be on vacation at the time." The House will work on "roughly the same timetable," AP reports.
"Debate in the Senate could take weeks, compared with mere days in the House. But even now, two weeks before the projected start of debate, key decisions are yet to be made about elements of the bills." A decision by Reid on including a public option in the merged bill from the Senate HELP and Finance committees is one of those decisions (Espo, 10/1).
Politico: Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, "wants to allow states to individually decide whether to create a private-insurance competitor such as a government plan and a nonprofit insurance cooperative, or to open up state-based insurance pools for government workers to every resident." Sen. Olympia Snowe might be warm to the idea, Politico reports. "Carper's plan is one of several alternatives emerging from the fractious debate over the public option. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) filed an amendment giving states the power to work with private insurers on expanding coverage up to 200 percent of poverty, which would cover about 75 percent of the uninsured" (Budoff Brown, 10/1).
The Washington Post: "While Baucus hopes to finalize his bill by Friday, he said a vote will be delayed until early next week to give congressional budget analysts time to determine how their changes would affect the cost of the measure, aides said" (Montgomery and Connolly, 10/1).
The Hill: "Senior Obama lieutenants, including Vice President Joe Biden, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, have all said recently they think Congress can get a bill to the president before the end of the Thanksgiving break." Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the HELP Committee, said Senate debate on the floor could take three weeks but couldn't say for sure Democrats would get 60 votes to break a Republican filibuster. "Harkin expressed surprise when told of reports that Reid is planning to exclude the public option from the base bill. He raced into the Senate Democrats' weekly lunch meeting, vowing to look into the matter" (Bolton and Youngman, 9/30).
Roll Call reports that the markup is testing Senate Finance members' patience: "While there were no major partisan blowups, Baucus hit some headwinds trying to keep the markup moving and at times ran into resistance from Republicans trying to keep alive the debate on some of their proposals" (Drucker, 9/30).