With Pressure Building, Baucus, Reid Weigh In On Timeline
Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Thursday that it is possible his committee could have a bipartisan deal by the end of the day, Dow Jones Newswires/Wall Street Journal reports (Yoest, 7/16).
Baucus' statements came after emerging from a two-hour meeting "with a core group of negotiators including Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and others," the Hill reports. "Baucus has kept his cards close to his vest on when he expects a bipartisan agreement to gel and when his committee can begin formally marking up a bill even as President Obama and the Democratic leadership have ratcheted up the pressure to get a bill passed by the Senate before the August recess" (Young, 7/16).
Politico: "Baucus said the task of filling a $320 billion hole in the bill has been challenging since the Democratic leadership and President Barack Obama asked Baucus last week to take the idea of taxing health benefits off the table. The mix of new options includes assessing health industry fees, issuing bonds to cover the cost of the Medicaid expansion and capping itemized deductions - although the last idea was not popular with members, Baucus said Thursday. 'Basically, the president is not helping us,' Baucus said of his opposition to capping the tax exclusion on health benefits. 'He does not want the exclusion. That is making it difficult'" (Brown, 7/16).
New York Times: "Still, even as Mr. Baucus insisted that he was making progress, the Senate leadership was making plans to potentially move forward without a Finance Committee bill" (Herszenhorn and Pear, 7/16).
The Hill: On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), "said that if the Senate Finance Committee completes markup of a bill by the end of next week, he would put it on the floor the following week," according to a separate report. Shrugging off criticisms by Republicans and some members of his own party "that he and other Democratic leaders are trying to rush healthcare reform through Congress," Reid said, "We've had this schedule for months now and I think we can meet the schedule that has been set We're not interested in deadlines. We're interested in trying to improve the healthcare delivery system of our country" (Bolton, 7/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.