September 21st, 2009
04:32 PM ET
9 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. Tyler

    Republicans are nonproductive....they need to be voted out!!!

    September 21, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Just a thought: Why is it mandatory in some states to purchase insurance for your vehicle BEFORE you put it on the road (it is in MD), but we're balking at it being mandatory for people to have health insurance? You do not, for the umpteenth time, have to purchase the isnurance that the gov't willbe offering. It will be ANOTHER choice. Options, people, OPTIONS.

    September 21, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. KG, MN

    Geez, Rachel Maddow has a degree in health policy. I recommend we let her wrtite the bill.

    September 21, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. victim of republican greed

    If you wingnuts don't have time to read the constitution, at least read the preamble.

    September 21, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  5. Steph

    So, Hatch wants to strip out taxes the insurance companies would pay, and Ensign wants to change one word (fee to tax) throughout the bill.

    Are these the "good" ideas the Democrats have been ignoring? Is this what all the yelling and crying has been about? Are they serious?

    What complete idiots! We are talking about people's lives. This isn't a political game for us hard working Americans who are getting killed by insurance company "death panels".

    September 21, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  6. Elle

    My regards to Sen. Snowe for her willingness to see reason with the bullying GOP breathing down her neck. I think there should indeed be a public option, but if there can't be one now, her compromise of adding a trigger is valuable and it should definitely be considered.

    September 21, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. Lyle

    Republicans didn't seem to have an issue with the billions and billions of dollars George W. was spending in Iraq and Afghanistan...but now they seem to be obsessed with over-spending. I guess as long as George W. spent it in Iraq and Afghanistan and not on Americans who really need it it was okay. Morons, one and all.

    September 21, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Phat Elvis

    How do we pay for this? with the BILLIONS of dollars saved from having the insurance companies overcharge us for insurance, that's how!
    enough with the politicking and the cutesy tricks. I wouldnt expect any better from our worthless Senator Ensign than to play stupid word games rather than actually try and solve the real problems in front of us. That is why, no matter how bad Democrats are doing, they are still better than Republicans

    September 21, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  9. Deke

    Republicans won't approve of anything. Their main focus is to bring America to it's knees in order to prove that they, and they alone, rule this country. Republicans view themselves as royalty.

    September 21, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. Junie

    It's amazing how many "bumbling idiots" believe everything and anything Republicans put out there. They can't seem to figure what is fiction and what is factual. Dumb idiots. GO PRESIDENT OBAMA!

    September 21, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. Wesley in the West

    Seems nobody can come up with a plan that the Republicans will even look at. Maybe most of em can't read...suppose? Why wait for em....Republicans have lost touch with America....just think of themselves and the Party. Time to kick em to the dogs!

    September 21, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  12. Terry, Butte, MT

    No Mandates to force people to buy insurance.
    No Tax dollars to subsidize the already greedy for profit Insurance industry.
    No taxes raised on anyone making under $250k per year.

    Must allow the people to Choose!!
    Must allow a choice of a Public Option
    Must allow a choice Doctor and Services
    Must open up the borders to allow Choice of Drugs from other countries.

    End pre-existing conditions
    End coverage drops even though people pay their premiums. (Should put a clause in that if your coverage is dropped then the Insurance company has to re-emburse you every unspent dollar on your care, that you gave them.)
    End For Profit Monopolies
    End raising premiums when you use your insurance.

    That about sums it up.

    September 21, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. J.C. - Independent & Insured

    If one can avoid paying high premiums to private insurers and pay more Medicare taxes for the Medicare-like single-payer government-run public plan, I will go for it. But we do need to cut wastes in Medicare.

    September 21, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |

    This is good news, considering that his "Insurance Industry Profit Protection And Enhancement Act" barely has a single redeeming quality.

    Are there any real leaders among the Democratic Super-Majority Senate, or are they all just a bunch of Evan Bayh's and Max Baucus's?

    If the Democrats don't want to lose big time in 2010, they should stop talking to Snowe, Enzi and Grassley, and just let Senator Jay Rockefeller write the bill!

    September 21, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  15. Isabelle

    Insurance companies are contiributing heavily to the GOP and rightly so, insurance agents don't want to give up the good life George W. has given them. We have foolishly footed the bill for these morons.

    September 21, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. Moe, NY

    PUBLIC OPTION or stick it! You can mandate all you want, but if a person still cannot afford health insurance they are not going to buy it....I know I won't, if I can't afford it....and that goes for paying a fine for not having health care insurance. (I will not pay it!)....hope there is no jail time involved. I want to keep my house and not be forced out on the streets of America and still be without health insurance. America should have universal health care just like Canada, France, and all the other countries that are so far ahead of us in the medical field.

    September 21, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. Brooke

    Any plan that doesn't have a public option in it, is a plan for the insurance companies. The "DEMOCRATS" need to all stick together on a public option, what they were voted to office to put into place and pass this through. Screw by-partisanship, it doesn't work with republicans. They have no intention of ever working with the democrats and are always going to have outrage over anything the dems try to do.

    September 21, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. Mario, mtl, ca.

    And what next for Baucus...

    September 21, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. Julie

    There should be more proposals from both parties for ideas and changes to the healthcare bill. How do you expect to draw the best from both sides' talking points unless you lay all the ideas out on the table, discuss the good and bad points of each, and then work on a compromise bill that everyone can agree on? Will all sides get everything they want or be completely happy with everything in the bill? I seriously doubt that, but I'm hopeful that there is enough common sense left on capitol hill to get this job done and get something past that works for the American people. Then we need to continue to monitor the system and make further changes as needed. It really can be that simple. Work together people, that's what WE pay you for.

    September 21, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. bill

    Can someone rationally explain to me why we need a public option. It is the most contentious piece of this and without it we are so close to getting a real bill thru that accomplishes so much.

    I dont get why you are so hooked on the idea that some govt run plan will really be a long term good thing , it has a minimal upside that can be accomplished in other ways and a tremendous downside that includes creating another huge beuracracy that will (if it follows every other similar program) will be massively inneficient and exponentialy more expensive then they project.

    Stop screaming Ed Shultz points and rationally tell me what makes it worth the enormous fight and makes you feel no bill without it can do any good


    September 21, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Next time someone calls Obama a Socialist for trying to reform health care, I would like to know if they ever went to public school, called the police or fire department, used public transit or better yet– if they are on medicare, where do they think they are getting their health care?

    September 21, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. A.B.

    The Baucus plan should be scrapped!! This plan lacks the public option and will not be affordable nor effective in offering comprehensive universal coverage to everyone in the United States. The Progressive Democrats should develop their plan for H.R. 3200 with the Public Option and get the Conservative Democrats to support the plan.

    September 21, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  23. Simmy

    Baucus is beginning to see the light, and that light is shining on his dark future......It's public option or bust.....Republicans have bullied the country for too long....It's time for Democrats to shake them off and get with the president....

    September 21, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  24. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "How will we pay for this? How will we pay for this?" We've been reminded over and over again that the same question was asked as a deterrent to instituting Medicare, and Social Security. I do agree that once these necessary programs were put in place the government did not properly track all the wasteful programs affiliated with them. This time around I am very hopeful that the same mistake will not be made. We need to monitor gov't funded healthcare more carefully to avoid said wastes, and trim the 'fat' off of the aformentioned ones. I do believe that experience in this area will afford us the vision to get it if not totally right, at least closer to the goal. With deliberate and constant revision healthcare reform will be a viable solution to the ever-increasing insurance premiums that are currently our ONLY option.

    September 21, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. Dennis

    Is this the same Max Baucus that has taken $400 million from the vaious Healthcare concerns/lobbyists? I can understand why he's so torn. If I had to please all those lobbyists in order to keep that kind of money flowing into my PAC, I'd probably be doing some re-writes as well.

    September 21, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
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