Baucus Signals Finance Committee Progress On Health Overhaul Bill
"A group of key Senate negotiators found a way to further reduce the price tag on the health care reform bill, bringing it in line with a $1 trillion target and moving the Senate Finance Committee closer to a deal, Chairman Max Baucus said Thursday," according to Politico. "The cost has become the top concern of Finance Committee senators after they received an estimate last week from the Congressional Budget Office claiming that an early version of the bill would top $1.6 trillion, or $600 billion more than expected."
Political reports that the senators said "they found $400 billion in savings earlier this week, largely by reducing the amount of subsidies for low-income individuals to buy insurance. It is unclear where the $200 billion in additional cuts were drawn, although Baucus said they discussed ways of empowering a federal board known as MedPac to wring savings out of the system." Despite the progress, Baucus is not yet ready to schedule a markup (Brown, 6/25).
The Associated Press/Washington Post reports that "aides said the Congressional Budget Office had estimated that the elements under consideration would extend coverage to 97 percent of the population, excluding illegal immigrants." But, despite signs of progress, "Republicans made clear that intense negotiations lie ahead if a bipartisan bill is to emerge. 'We have made no deals, no agreements,' said Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine."
Partisan differences persist on major issues, including the questions "of a government-run option for insurance that would compete with private industry" and of employer mandates. "At its heart, any legislation is designed to require insurance companies to sell insurance to anyone seeking it. Denial on the grounds of pre-existing medical conditions would be banned, as would higher premiums" (Werner and Espo, 6/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.