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.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A controversial new tax on employer-provided medical benefits is gaining traction among Senate health care negotiators as a way to help pay for a $1 trillion reform package moving through Congress, two key senators said Wednesday.
Bipartisan Senate negotiators are "starting to coalesce" around the idea, according to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana.
Any tax is controversial - but this proposal is especially politically charged, since President Barack Obama opposed the idea when he ran for president. White House officials from the president on down have sent mixed messages in public in recent weeks about whether he'd accept such a tax.
Baucus says the president has told him he is "flexible" on the proposal.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Top Obama administration officials met privately in the Capitol with Democratic senators involved in health care reform Tuesday to assess where the complicated legislation stands and what the next steps need to be to pass it.
"We had to have it," said Finance Committe Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, about the meeting, which lasted an hour and a half. "To compare notes with the White House so the president's chief of staff hears our concerns and hears them directly."
Baucus declined to specify the "concerns" presented at the meeting, although the legislation has been slowed by Democratic differences over policy and financing.