Baucus Ready To Move Ahead With Markup of Health Care Overhaul
On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) pledged to introduce a health reform bill next week and begin mark-up sessions of the legislation the week of Sept. 21, The Hill reports.
Emerging from a meeting with other Democrats on the panel, Baucus said, "The time has come for action, and we will act" (Young, The Hill, 9/9). Baucus said that he remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached with Republicans on his committee, but noted that he is ready to get the bill passed with or without their support (Smith/Alexander, Reuters, 9/9).
Baucus said, "I very much hope and expect Republicans to be on board. I don't know how many, but if there are not any, I'm going to move forward in any event" (Edney, CongressDaily, 9/9).
When asked how many Republican votes he is anticipating in support of the bill, Baucus said, "At least one, hopefully more."
According to Roll Call, Democrats are hopeful that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) -- one of three Republican members of the Finance Committee's bipartisan "Gang of Six," which has been negotiating the committee's reform bill -- would align with them by the end of the negotiations.
Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leaders intend to have the Finance Committee's bill on the floor by the week of Sept. 28, Roll Call reports.
The bill would need to be reconciled with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's proposal before it can advance for a chamber vote (Pierce/Drucker, Roll Call, 9/10).
On Wednesday, Baucus said that he expects the Finance Committee's bill will be similar to the framework he circulated to the negotiating group over the weekend. He noted that a provision to create a public plan option will be replaced by one that creates not-for-profit health cooperatives to compete with private insurers (Haberkorn, Washington Times, 9/10).
"I think with increasing conviction that the public option cannot pass the Senate," he said (CongressDaily, 9/9).
The Gang of Six will meet today.Negotiating group member Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said that Baucus' bill will be scored by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation when it is released (The Hill, 9/9). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.