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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senator Max Baucus stood alone on Wednesday when he introduced his summary for a health care reform bill. But one day later, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is getting some support from the center.
Four centrist senators Thursday issued a statement praising the Montana senator's efforts to produce a reform bill that may be able to attrack bipartisan support, even though the lawmakers say they have disagreements with aspects of his proposals.
But the senators, Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Democrats Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, vowed to "put aside partisan views" and work to pass a health care bill.
"We commend Chairman Baucus for his efforts to forge a health care reform proposal that has the potential to gain broad bipartisan support. We are encouraged by his commitment to work with both Democrats and Republicans in the Finance Committee, and believe there is a responsibility for both sides of the aisle to work together to develop a bill that will earn strong support from the full Senate," said the senators in a joint statement Thursday.
–CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this story
The main points include:
· $856 billion over 10 years and mandatory insurance coverage for every American by 2013.
· Baucus claims the bill would not add to the federal deficit.
· The plan is financed by more than $500 billion in various spending reductions, including Medicare, while calling for almost $350 billion in new taxes and fees.
· Insurers would be hit with $6 billion in new fees, with another $4 billion coming from the medical device manufacturing sector.
· Smaller sums would come from drug makers and clinical laboratories.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The leader of a massive push for the inclusion of a public option in health care reform legislation told CNN Wednesday that the group will begin running an ad in Montana in the coming weeks targeting the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus.
The spots, likely backed by a six-figure buy, will pressure the Montana senator to support the public option, and highlight his campaign contributions from the insurance industry.
Baucus does not support a public option, and on Wednesday said that he would be introducing legislation without the provision in his committee, and moving forward with or without Republican support for the health care bill.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has already released spots targeting Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who have both been considered possible swing votes on a final bill.
The group, which staged a protest of former Obama volunteers outside the White House earlier this week, has drawn attention for its online petition pushing President Obama to stand firmly behind a public option.
The petition had drawn 80,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning, including those of 400 former Obama campaign staffers, 25,000 former Obama volunteers and 45,000 Obama campaign donors, according to Adam Green, PCCC's co-founder. The organization has seen its membership grow by almost 15 percent in the past week, he said, to over 160,000.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A Democratic Senate chairman at the heart of Capitol Hill's delicate health-care negotiations announced Wednesday that he intends to unveil a long-awaited compromise reform bill from his committee next week.
Sen. Max Baucus of Montana , head of the Senate Finance Committee, also told reporters that he is prepared to move forward in the legislative process with or without Republican support.
"The time has come for action and we will act," Baucus told reporters.
"We have a path for moving forward. This is our moment."
The Finance Committee's "Gang of Six," a group of three Democratic and three Republican senators, has been working for months to craft bipartisan health-care legislation.
What's next in the health care fight? CNN Radio takes a look ahead
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two Democratic sources tell CNN that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus will make a significant announcement about the process and timetable for moving his health care plan forward at 12:15 pm.
UPDATE: Baucus came out of a closed meeting with all Democrats on the Finance Committee and said that he plans to formally unveil the committee's health care bill next week, and will set a markup for the following week - and that he plans to move forward, with or without Republicans.
Baucus said Republicans have had a lot of input, and that he will keep working with them through next week and during the markup to offer their ideas. But the announcement seems to signal there is no guarantee he will get Republican votes, or the bipartisan bill he's worked on for months.
The Gang of Six still plans to meet with Republicans this afternoon.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A source close to Republican Sen. Charles Grassley tells CNN he intends to offer counter proposals to Sen. Max Baucus tomorrow morning, as the Senate Finance Committee chair requested.
What changes he will offer is still unclear. He and his aides will work on it tonight.
The source did not want to speak on the record by name discussing internal deliberations.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A copy of the 18-page health care proposal from Sen. Max Baucus, obtained by CNN from both a Democratic and Republican source, reveals more detail about the Finance Committee chairman's proposal.
Read the plan full here (pdf)
A source close to Republican Sen. Grassley tells CNN that in addition to the problem he has with the fee on insurance companies, a concern he expressed on CNN this morning, he also does not like the overall price tag, which he thinks will be about $880 billion. The Iowa senator had been hoping for something in the $750-$780 billion ballpark.
Democratic sources tell us that Baucus will use today's 2:30 pm ET meeting to gauge whether he can get a deal with the Republicans in the so-called "Gang of Six," especially Grassley and Sen. Mike Enzi, or whether he will have to move on and schedule a Finance Committee markup without a bipartisan agreement.
Democratic sources say Baucus will likely make that decision before the president's speech tomorrow night.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two sources familiar with the "Gang of Six" bipartisan talks say Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, could distribute a proposal to the other five negotiators as early as this afternoon.
In a conference call Friday, Baucus made clear to the other senators he wants to move forward very soon with a health care bill.
Democratic sources say Baucus is well aware that with the president's Wednesday speech looming, and the White House already looking at other avenues to pass a health care bill, time is virtually up for this group, which had been negotiating intensely all summer.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama's opposition to taxing employer-provided health benefits has slowed progress on passing a health care reform bill, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee complained Thursday.
"Basically, the president is not helping us," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, after emerging from closed talks on the bill.
Baucus' criticism came on the same day the head of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the health reform bills moving through Congress won't reduce long-term health care costs - in part because the bills don't include taxes on health benefits.
The comments by CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf provided ammunition for Republican opponents of the two Democratic-sponsored measures made public so far - one passed Wednesday by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and one proposed this week by House Democrats.
"I don't see any Republicans that have any interest in voting to ration care for their constituents, raise costs to their constituents, and put the federal government in charge of the best health care system in the world," said House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.