Senate Finance Votes Down Rockefeller Amendment, 15-8
The Senate Finance Committee has rejected 15-8 an amendment by Sen. John D. Rockefeller to include a government-run public option in the committee's draft proposal.
The Washington Post: "The Senate Finance Committee voted down a government-run 'public option' as part an overhaul of the nation's health-care system Tuesday..." Panel Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and four other Democrats voted with Republicans to oppose the amendment. "Baucus said he voted against the politically volatile provision because he feared that a bill including it would not get the 60 votes it would need to pass on the Senate floor."
"Other Democrats who favor a public option argued that polls show 65 percent of Americans support including it in health-insurance reform legislation. House committees have included such an option in their proposals, and President Obama has expressed support for a public option, while also indicating that this is not the most important consideration for him and leaving the way open for cooperatives" (Branigin, 9/29).
The Associated Press: Rockefeller argued in support of his amendment, saying it was necessary because "insurance companies have failed to meet their obligation." Without the provision, he added, "consumers would face substantial premium increases once health care legislation takes effect."
The AP continued: "Under Rockefeller's proposal, payments to doctors, hospitals and other health care providers would be based on Medicare fees." A second amendment being considered by the panel today, this one by Rep. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y., "called for negotiations to set the rates" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 9/29).
Bloomberg: Baucus argued that "insurers already face new standards in his proposal, including a requirement that they issue policies to all who need them and restrictions on the different premium charges they can place on the youngest and oldest policy holders" as well as new competition from the nonprofit cooperatives. "Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the panel's top Republican, countered that a public option would be 'a slow walk toward government-controlled, single-payer health care.'"
"Baucus originally intended to finish his panel's work in three days. As this morning's debate began, he said the finance committee had considered 60 amendments and was holding the longest 'mark-up' of a measure in 15 years" (Litvan/Jensen, 9/29).
CBS News: "The 15-8 rejection marked a victory for Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the committee chairman, who is hoping to push his middle-of-the-road measure through the panel by week's end. It also kept alive the possibility that at least one Republican may yet swing behind the bill, a key goal of both Baucus and the White House" (9/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.