The Baucus Health Overhaul Measure Receives A ‘Luke-Warm’ Greeting, But Termed By The White House To Be A ‘Building Block’ To Reform
The Wall Street Journal: "Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus formally unveiled a 10-year, $856 billion bill that would extend health insurance to tens of millions of Americans but that found lukewarm support among other key senators, indicating changes to the measure are in store."
As of this afternoon, the measure had yet to win any Republican support. "Sen. Olympia Snowe, one of three Republicans Mr. Baucus has wooed for the package, said the bill is inadequate to win her support even as it 'moves in the right direction.'" She identified three specific areas where changed were needed -- "tax credits to make insurance affordable to consumers; cost to the government of expanded coverage; and ensuring competition in the new insurance exchanges created by the bill."
Additionally, Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., the two other Republicans who have been involved in negotiations with Mr. Baucus, "have also said they are disappointed with the Baucus proposal and can't sign on." But both expressed willingness to keep talking with Mr. Baucus toward a deal. Meanwhile, "some Senate Democrats... also were measured in their assessment." And Baucus will now begin moving the bill toward committee action, which will likely start on Tuesday (Hitt, Yoest and Vaughan, 9/16).
On the House side, Glenn Thrush reports on his Politico blog that Speaker "Nancy Pelosi's reaction to the release of the Baucus health care reform bill was chilly at best -- with a not-so-subtle swipe at the Senate Finance Committee's stripping away of the public option preserved in current House proposals." Pelosi's support for the public option has been "publicly consistent" despite signs from other House Democrats "that the final House-Senate compromise could be passed without [it]" (Thrush, 9/16).
The word from the White House, The Associated Press reports, is that the Baucus mark is "'an important building block' in getting closer to comprehensive health care reform. ... White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the president doesn't see the lack of bipartisan support as the end of the debate. He says the legislative process will continue and that he hopes Republicans will listen to their constituents' concerns about rising health care costs" (9/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.