September 21st, 2009
04:32 PM ET
5 years ago

Baucus plans changes to his own health care proposal

WASHINGTON (CNN) – In effort to show fellow Democrats he hears their deep concerns about his health care plan, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus plans to make changes to his own proposal even before the committee starts voting Tuesday on hundreds of proposed amendments to the $774 billion dollar plan.

The biggest concern he will begin to address: affordability.

Two Democratic sources close to Baucus tell CNN he plans to use the $28 billion surplus in the plan cited by the Congressional Budget Office to help Americans pay for health insurance that would be mandatory under his proposal.

The Baucus sources say he will discuss this in a Monday evening meeting with committee Democrats.

Late last Friday, 564 amendments were filed to make changes to Baucus' proposal, including a significant number from Democrats looking for ways to make health coverage more affordable.

Several Democratic measures call for expanding tax credits to help pay for health coverage.

Other Democratic amendments would lower the penalty on middle class individuals and families for not complying with a new mandate for health coverage.

Republicans are targeting that penalty - noting that the Baucus plan clearly defines it as an "excise tax."

In fact, it's clear from amendments Republicans have offered that the thrust of their strategy revolves around that one controversial word: taxes.

They plan to make this proposal very difficult for moderate and conservative Democrats on the committee to support by highlighting the number of taxes that Baucus' proposal would require Americans and businesses to pay.

For example, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has proposed an amendment that explicitly exempts families making less than $250,000 per year from tax increases. Hatch says his rationale is that "President Obama has pledged not to raise taxes on middle-income families."

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, offered several amendments to the Baucus proposal to kill nearly $10 billion in excise taxes on the insurance industry, medical device manufacturers, clinical laboratories and manufacturers of imported brand drugs.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, has an amendment to change the word "fee" used throughout the Baucus proposal, to "tax."
Democrats have offered other measures that highlight the controversies and differences in their own party.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, and Charles Schumer, D-New York, have each introduced amendments to include a government-run insurance option, which is currently not in Baucus' proposal.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, the only Republican Democrats still believe could support their health care plan, has also offered several amendments, including ways to make insurance more affordable, and the idea of a so-called "trigger" option, which would implement a new public option only if insurance market reforms do not result in greater competition and lower costs for consumers.


Filed under: Health care • Max Baucus
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. Navy Vet

    Yep, its all about getting a health reform bill to help the people. Nothing political there.

    ** Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, has an amendment to change the word "fee" used throughout the Baucus proposal, to "tax."
    [sic]

    September 21, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. Yolanda

    I guess it's now my turn. Last Friday I had great health insurance. Today, I have nothing. I have checked into COBRA, however, without a job, COBRA is too expensive. Today, it's me tomorrow, it will be you.
    GOOD LUCK.

    September 21, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. yuri

    Baucus may want to avoid bein' balked at, perhaps, by further bringin' down the cost of this brutal healthcare bill to about half-a-trillion or less. The GOP heads might start showin' signs of serious enthusiasm. Their method of starting over will be too time-consuming and they can not hope to get a lot on board w/ their strategy, either

    September 21, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. JILLIE

    Republicans will "squash" this also. The GOP has become a nonproductive party.

    September 21, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Chipster

    Add a public option or toss it. There is no reform without a public option – just smoke and mirrors.

    September 21, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  6. Kyle

    Republicans have no intention of every passing any kind of healthcare reform. They want President Obama to fail, even if it means taking the whole country down to do it.

    September 21, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Zane

    Republicans are willing to take the whole country down to prove President Obama wrong. In reality, they are only proving how nonproductive they really are. Down with the GOP!!!

    September 21, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. Billy J ..Texas..

    Scrap the whole thing and start over. Public Option and Mandated Enrollment. Done. Everybody is covered for less, and no one gets the shaft (unless you are a top exec at a health insurance company or pharmaceutical or have all your money invested in only their stock)

    September 21, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Idiot_Pelosi

    Well, NO shoot DUMocRATS

    You're just now realizing you don't know how to pay for something?

    DUH......

    September 21, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. joec

    The Democrats need to seize the moment and move forward with health care reform. Stop the bickering already! It needs to be done. Have you forgotten your dedication to the common man is what makes you a Democrat? As for the Republicans, where does Orrin Hatch get off redefining the middle class as folks making up to $250,000? I don't know anybody making that much that considers him or herself to be middle class. Typical GOP sleight of hand, or rather, mouth.
    Democrats, forget about the Republicans. Trying to get them on board will lead to interminable stalling and before we know it, this unique moment in our time will have passed

    September 21, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Keith in Austin

    Signs of weakening Democratic leadership in Washington,

    September 21, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Four and The Door

    Still a couple little problems with his plan, though. Our economy is on life support, unemployment is near 10% and this administration has put us in national debt up to our ears already. How are we going to pay for this again?

    September 21, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  13. DonnaLee

    The bill has been amended 565 different directions at once?

    Holy mackerel ... isn't that stretched a bit too thinly to do anyone any good?

    Sounds like a sticky sweet treat I loved as a kid ... Taffy.

    Hope it doesn't stick to the roofs of our mouth.

    September 21, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. J.P.

    I'd like to make a change to his healthcare proposal and it starts by plugging in my cross-cut shredder.

    September 21, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Randolph Carter, the elitist, narcissistic Obamabot

    God forbid we should raise taxes. We've been so spoiled with unrealistically low tax rates. Anybody remember 50% upper income tax bracket? The rich sure didn't have a problem getting rich in those days. But I guess it's not enough to be rich anymore. Now you've gotta be megarich. What a bunch of greedy, spoiled brats some Americans are. We had this great taxbreak party for decades and see where it got us? Trickle down doesn't work. Real wages for the non-megarich stagnated under George W. Bush. And the worst part is that the megarich are stoking tax paranoia in what's left of the middle class. Hey teabaggers, do you think you'll get a piece of the pie? Good luck with that. I hold no such illusions. Let's raise taxes to a more reasonable level for the common good and forget all this pie-in-the-sky illusory prosperity based on shady financial deals and tax breaks. The problem is most people still believe that the market is fair and that anything that restrains pure capitalism is bad. Gee, that attitude has worked really well, hasn't it? Have a nice day!

    September 21, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. Julnor

    So let's get this straight. In just 8 months, healthcare has gone from a service to a right to a requirement. Folks, it is a service. People need to be free to choose for themselves whether or not to purchase healthcare. Forcing you to do so is completely un-American. Funny, most of those who support mandatory healthcare consider themselves "Pro Choice". I guess that's a selective label.

    September 21, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. The new GOP party of NO, racism, and hate is emerging and least you Rightwing NUTS forget, Bush had 47 Czars

    Can Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada define the what "fee" and "tax" is, seriously?....maybe he is very confortable in using "tax"payers donations to pay off his mistress to while writing them of as hookers "fees" in his tax returns!!!!!

    September 21, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, North Carolina

    "Two Democratic sources close to Baucus tell CNN he plans to use the $28 billion surplus in the plan cited by the Congressional Budget Office to help Americans pay for health insurance that would be mandatory under his proposal."

    Why does it never seem to occur to a politician to apply a "surplus," or any other kind of "found money" to reducing the national debt? Or reducing taxes? No, they always find some way to waste it, in this case doing exactly what a majority of Americans don't want done: paying the medical expenses of total strangers.

    September 21, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. Peoples Voice

    We want a public option.

    Just in case you didn't hear me.

    WE WANT A PUBIC OPTION.

    September 21, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  20. Dave

    No public option = no individual mandate. It is unconscionable to force Americans to enrich private health insurers without effective government competition or federal regulation to keep health insurance affordable. The private insurers' business plan focuses on controlling their risk pool (i.e. insure the healthy, reject the rest) rather than controlling their adminstrative costs or medical costs. Their demonstrated inability to control employer-based insurance costs strongly argues for a non-profit, cost-oriented insurance system.

    September 21, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. Cody

    I lost my job 2 weeks ago and my health insurance went with it. COBRA insurance is astronomical. Not only can't I afford health insurance now, but it looks like my home is going too. What a world we are living in.........

    September 21, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. Centrist

    It's good to see Sen. Baucus is willing to make much-needed changes to his first draft on health-care reforms.

    I agree with the bipartisan concerns over exorbitant fees in Baucus' initial draft, with the exception of Grassley's continually shameful bidding for insurance companies, instead of the American people. Unfortunately, it shows Grassley is still not compromising in good faith and has No intent on voting for any bill.

    In stark contrast, Sen. Snowe is genuinely offering more reasoned alternatives to replace co-ops with a trigger for the public option, which is supported by the majority of Americans.

    Health-care reforms are almost there. Let's get this important legislation passed for our country!

    September 21, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "including a significant number from Democrats looking for ways to make health coverage more affordable."
    --------------------------------

    Isn't this the part of the program where the Republicans can also add their two-cents (that's all the braintrust worth that they will part with in order to help the average American) to ammend the proposal and thus add their 'valuable' and much sought-after input to this reform? Or is it just about "their way or the highway" for the Republicans, AGAIN? There's no 'R" in team for sure.

    September 21, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. Kelby In Houston, Texas

    There were 564 amendments proposed. Did any of them include a public option?
    How is it that you want to require every citizen purchase health insurance and then not provide a public option? This boils down to giving the insurance companies more money and more control.
    WE WANT A PUBLIC OPTION. If you add a public option to the bill it is a winner.
    WE WANT A PUBLIC OPTION.
    I know the angry mobs at townhall meetings scared you. I know that the Democratic party is a bunch of wimps afraid to stand up for what they believe in and who voted them into power.
    GET OVER IT!
    WE WANT A PUBLIC OPTION
    And trust that the people who put you where you are now have not gone to sleep. We are not going to come down to a town hall meeting and act a fool. We are going to call and email you and if you don't comply we will simply show up to the polls and vote you out. This is the attitude of the majority.
    WE WANT A PUBLIC OPTION

    September 21, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. Kent

    Republicans have no intention of passing anything. They are siding with insurance companies that are contributing heavily to their re-election campaigns.

    September 21, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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