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. Mike

    Why are the democrats making this so difficult?
    Insurance reform is simple:
    Eliminate Pre-existing conditions exclusions and dropping coverages.
    In exchange, any lifetime payout over $1 million gets put on Medicare or Medicaid.

    September 21, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  2. Centrist

    The public option would offer real health-care reforms to increase competition, whereby, improving quality of services and extending affordable coverage to millions of Americans. A reasonable trigger seems far better than co-ops any day.

    September 21, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. Cora

    If we don't pass healthcare reform now, it will never get done. This is our last chance. Amen.

    September 21, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. Michael Hsu

    That's nice – the government using surplus tax money to help people pay for the health insurance that is now mandatory.

    How about not requiring people (who don't want health insurance) to buy health insurance?

    And for people who don't have health insurance, but want it, and can't afford to pay for it themselves – all I can say is... I'd like a Ferrari, can't afford it, and would like you to buy one for me. And it doesn't matter that you couldn't afford the higher taxes because your taxes are going to go up anyways!

    September 21, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. Peter

    The only important changes which Baucus can make, IS STOP TAKING MONEY FROM INSURANCE COMPANIES! thats the most important change he can start with!!

    September 21, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. Lila

    As I am one of those so-called "happily insured" Americans, I would MUCH rather put my money into a public option than the heaping pile of "coverage" I'm getting now.

    September 21, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  7. Scott, Tucson

    I'd like to see an admendment which states that all politicians SHALL be under the same plan as they're trying to cram down the American people throats.

    September 21, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  8. New Yorker

    Well folks, there you have it. We'll be forced to carry insurance or pay a "fee" which is actually a tax. Doesn't matter what they call it; it's a tax. Obama said he would not raise our taxes.What do you call this, a lie? Guess that depends on your definition of lie.

    Will the youngsters who voted for Obama still rally around him now that they got what they didn't hope for and change they can't afford. The biggest change is from a country of freedom to a totalitarian regime. How about a change of leadership?

    September 21, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  9. tom

    564 amendments???? Sounds like patching similar to a Microsoft operating systems. Let's start over and get a plan in place that has been openly discussed and debated.

    September 21, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. Billy J ..Texas..

    Baucus plan is pure kiss up to the insurance lobbyists. What a disaster. This is like a Republican saying everyone should start paying 90 percent taxes. Baucus bill flies in the face of what the Democrats and their 'party of change' moniker are supposed to be standing for. Kill it, let somebody else re-write it with public option and national mandate, then vote on it, up or down. That's the way Republicans ran things, and they got stuff done. Their ideology is what messed everything up, not their ability to band together and forge ahead.

    September 21, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  11. IndiePA

    If Pelosi, the "liar" Reid and the far left liberal faction have their way, taxpaying American citizens will foot the bill (as will their children and grandchildren) for those who don't want coverage, won't work to obtain it, or aren't eligible (if you check I.D.'s for proof of citizenship). Obama's double speak is actually more sickening than listening to Bush try to put a sentence together. 80% of Americans are satisfied with their current coverage, which could quickly go away if the public option is applied. If it's left to the far right conservatives, they'll look out for the insurance companies and the wealthy. So who, exactly, is looking out for the working middle class??? I'm a Democrat (at this pace, probably not for long).

    September 21, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. T

    Sounds like it is STILL going to COST pleanty, which is NOT what the people want. The people really for it are the ones just wanting a handout from the government, the rest of us are already PAYING for healthcare either in the form of insurance or out of our pockets (BY CHOICE) as it is.

    September 21, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. tom

    Torte reform has to be part of the package. OB-GYNs are retiring or refusing to continue to practice. Malpractice insurance is driving them away. So have many attorney's in in Congress????

    September 21, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Brooke

    The reason that a public option must be part of the health care bill is to break up the oligopoly that runs health care now. You will never see premiums decrease, because it hurts all insurance companies if one lowers their prices, forcing everyone to lower prices. They aren't stupid. It’s the same reason you don’t see a gas station with gas a dollar cheaper, it hurts everyone.

    September 21, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  15. rickymo

    I hope he can stand up to the GOP...the party of no!

    September 21, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  16. ran

    Give us singlepayer non-profit universal already.

    September 21, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  17. Sam SixPack

    He also, now that Obama says so, remove the word "tax" from the bill. Perhaps he can replace it with "banana."

    September 21, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. Texas Teacher

    Europeans laugh at us over Universal Health Care... they have had it forever... and they LIKIE it.... they also get 6 wks paid vacation a year... and they LIKE it.... they get 6 months.... SIX MONTHS of paid maternity leave.... and they LIKE it! They are thin healthy people because their food manufacturers cannot cram the crap into their food that ours can! Their doctors opt for natural cures FIRST... prescription drugs are a LAST resort due to the side effects.... and they LIKE it! Europeans can have all the education they want... and it is paid for...and they LIKE it! An educated populace is hard to control... and we wonder why our schools are so far behind European Schools? What is wrong with AMERICANS that we CANNOT figure this out for ourselves! WHY do we have to believe everything our politicians tell us? Why can't our MEDIA tell us the TRUTH about these things? And we think we are the best country in the world to live in? Give me Sweden, for God's sake, except that I love my country! Why can't our Country figure this out? I can easily tell you why... BIG Business RUNS this country... that simple! Pooofff....

    September 21, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  19. Farrell in Houston

    It's better to spend American tax dollars in Iraq, Afghan and around the world but not for the healthcare of all Americans. So keep up the good work Americans as we become a 3rd world country.

    September 21, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  20. Texas Teacher

    I'm out of here... as usual it just makes me angry to read and see what our politicians are doing to this country and the fools who support them....

    September 21, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  21. obama the liar

    changes, changes, changes-and the chancellor wanted to pass this sham 2 months ago before anyone read it....BE AFRAID AMERICA.

    September 21, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  22. james

    we who live in the uk have our national health service and it has changed over the decades where it is now in great need of reform as it has wasted millions on schemesput forward by adminastrators which have become american i would suggest that you take alook at our service and debate if this is the way you really wish to go. good luckbut watch that usa does not become union socialist america

    September 21, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  23. lorenzo

    The so called "public option" would not be an option for long. With the government demanding more and more in health insurance policies and not having to worry about the dirtiest of words PROFIT, it will not take long for the insurance carriers to drop away, for this just ain't worth the hassle. Now Big Government moves in and we have postal quality health care, and we lose what little freedoms we have left. To all the kool-aid drinkers.... be careful of what you wish for.

    September 21, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  24. G'er

    We need to put the brakes on all healthcare reform until the congress has a better balance of Republicans and Democrats after the next election. There is no compromise now, the Dems are forcing a very liberal agenda on the nation.

    September 21, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. Pragmatic

    Change is good! If the GOP had only been willing to come to the table with open hearts and minds – we might accomplish something. I am so disappointed that all the republicans offer is fear and smear – lies and more lies ...

    September 21, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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