September 22nd, 2009
11:04 AM ET
11 years ago

Senate committee begins consideration of Baucus health proposal

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said he will focus on health care costs.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said he will focus on health care costs.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said Tuesday he will focus on health care costs as he offers changes to the compromise health care proposal he unveiled last week.

He made his comments as the committee met to begin considering his plan.

"My colleagues, this is our opportunity to make history. Our actions here this week will determine whether we are courageous and skillful enough to seize the opportunity to change things ... for the better," he said.

"No one should die because they cannot afford health care. This bill would fix that.

"Every 30 seconds another American files for bankruptcy after a serious health problem. Every year about one and a half million families lose their homes to foreclosure because of unaffordable medical costs. No one should go bankrupt because they get sick. This bill would fix that," Baucus said.

Earlier, the Montana Democrat said he wanted to address concerns of fellow Democrats and consider questions by Republicans before the panel starts voting on hundreds of proposed amendments to the $774 billion measure.

The proposal would require all Americans to have health insurance and would tax insurance companies providing the most expensive health insurance - known as "Cadillac" plans - as part of a comprehensive attempt to expand coverage while holding down costs.

A committee aide said Baucus would announce the specifics of changes to his proposal after the lunch break.

Baucus has acknowledged what he called "legitimate concerns" about his proposal and said he would adjust some provisions to make required health insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income Americans.

Senators were delivering opening statements during the morning session of Tuesday's committee hearing, which Baucus predicted would last the rest of the week to deal with more than 560 amendments. A significant number of those amendments were proposed by Democrats looking for ways to make health coverage more affordable.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the Baucus proposal would cost $774 billion over 10 years, and result in a $28 billion reduction in the federal deficit over that period.

Baucus offered the plan after months of negotiations with three Republicans and two other Democrats on the committee. The "Gang of Six" was
considered the best hope for a health care bill that could attract Republican support. However, none of the three Republicans in the negotiating group have backed the Baucus proposal so far.

Four other health care proposals, all by Democrats, have passed congressional committees - three in the House and one in the Senate.

President Barack Obama has endorsed much of the Baucus proposal and called for both Democrats and opposing Republicans to use the Finance Committee hearing to seek changes they desire.

Filed under: Health care • Max Baucus
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. phoenix86

    The Obama / Baucus Tax Increase is underway.

    September 22, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. yuri

    The Cadillac plan of Baucus may come under crisp and carpin' criticism from the conservatives. The party of " no" will probably continue to tirade negatively against this proposal, unless the number of modifications of the bill approaches sveral billions.

    September 22, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. John

    This bill does absolutley nothing for me. i have the most useless insurance ever and am, falling thrui the cracks and cant even afford all my prescriptions! I thought maybe I would be able to stop worrying about death from lack of insurance but NO! i soon will be one more statistice and a feather in the hat of the evagelical -Republicans and heath insurance companies! See america you already got those death squads and it is defined by money!

    September 22, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. Terry from Texas

    Not only should no one die because they can't afford health care. No one should live with an untreated chronic disease, like diabetes. No child should fail to receive vaccinations for childhood diseases. No wife should have to struggle to care for her husband with Alzheimer's disease. In a generation, we will have four million autistic adults in our society. We will have 30 million people with Alzheimer's. We have 20 million diabetics in our society, but 7 million of them don't know they have diabetes.

    To Conservatives, this is just an accounting problem. They say we can't afford, as a nation, to take care of sick people and prevent diseases. We don't have the money to take care of sick children.

    I say, maybe we don't have the money for big new cars or fancy new homes, but we have the money to take care of sick kids.

    September 22, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    NO! NO! NO! The Baucus bill is D.O.A.

    September 22, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "However, none of the three Republicans in the negotiating group have backed the Baucus proposal so far"

    Why this dogged reluctance to be participatory and contributive from the GOP? This is your chance to have a POSITIVE hand in making history. The GOPers are too caught up raking money in hand over foot in order to continue to be the Party of obstructionists and ZERO input. Oh, and they are rude too!

    September 22, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. Kip Barkley

    Sen Baucus, nationalized health care will not better this country, period. Stop with the change at all costs. All change is not for the better. Indeed, some change is highly destructive as your bill would be if enacted.

    September 22, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |

    If Senate Democrats don't want to lose big time in 2010, they really should jettison Baucus's "Insurance Industry Profit Preservation and Enhancement Act."

    I have made contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and to Rob Miller of South Carolina for Congress, but reduced the amount I sent to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

    I sent the money to *Health Care for American NOW!* instead.

    After decades of letting private sector interests create huge problems in our health care system, we need real reform. THIS REFORM – OR FAILURE OF REFORM – WILL AFFECT US FOR DECADES TO COME.

    Senators, let Rockefeller and Schumer write the bill!

    September 22, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. Kip Barkley

    Sen Baucus, nationalized health care will not better this country, period. Stop trying to persuade thinking Americans that this will improve our healthcare system. We all regret that some folks suffer financially because of very expensive health emergencies, but WHY BANKRUPT EVERYONE IN THE COUNTRY just to fix things for a few?

    September 22, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    How funny that this is supposed to be a “compromise” bill but none of the GOP members will sign on to it. The gang of six was a waste of taxpayer money and I want my money back.

    September 22, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Minnesotan

    Sen. Baucus: Put the Public Option in your plan. That will negate the 'Insurance Company Bailout' aspect of your proposal and actually FIX the system. Otherwise, your plan sucks.

    September 22, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. CM

    I would be very happy if one elected person in the Senate would admit that they have no constitutional authority under Article 1, section 8 to do anything with health insurance at all. Everyone of these individuals took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution and yet anyone that votes in favor of government seizure of health care are all in violation of this oath.

    September 22, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. Deb

    If there isn't a public option then I don't want health reform that only benefits the insurance companies of this country!

    September 22, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. Pete

    I guess he is suggesting that it would be better if everybody dies because we "fix" healthcare!

    Stop the madness and get government out of our lives.

    September 22, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Ryan, Council Bluffs

    Mandatory insurance makes this a non-starter.

    September 22, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. 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)

    Force them to stay until it is finished and voted on, and watch how fast it gets on the Prez's desk. Time for strong leadership. We could have used different majority leaders at this point. I have never been impressed with Reid or Pelosi's abilities.

    September 22, 2009 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. Billy J ..Texas..

    If they pass this thing with no public option but mandatory enrollment, then they might as well throw the finger at the middle class. We are becoming a society of wage slaves, and it is due in no small part to these slimey pols sucking up to banks (who give you the credit to live like you are making a decent wage, but are now forever blocked from accumulating real wealth) and insurance companies ( who sell the false hope that you will be able to afford your childs illness or your own treatment for that matter).

    September 22, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. Mike

    Yeah, lets see how they feel about not being reelected.

    September 22, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  19. W Spivey FL

    Baucus you are selling the American people a piece of crap.. If Obama signs this version, you and he both will be looking for a new job and it want be in politics. The President was very clear in what he wanted and you have made a sham out of it. You have wasted peoples' time and money. You could have put this forward long ago and by now we would have decent regulation. I quess this is what the People can expect when we allow politicians to crawl into bed with their sidelines.

    September 22, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. Farrell in Houston

    People are dying everyday because they don't have healthcare insurance while the Republicans say slow down, Obama's moving too fast, let's obstruct and delay, let's vote no. Lack of healthcare for all is just another one of Americas dirty little secrets.

    September 22, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. joec

    Republicans will stall this effort at health care reform as long as they can, likely til the next election, UNLESS the Democrats finally wake up and say, "Enough!". No more talk. Let's vote. Period.

    September 22, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  22. D. Tree

    Baucus showed his bill to the Insurance Industry Lobbyists before he showed it to Congress of the American People.

    Are we too dumb to be able to tell that's not going to be a good deal for the American People?

    September 22, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. katiec

    Baucus's plan is totally unacceptable, unworkable for the American people. BUT, it does favor big business.
    We must all e mail ( phone advising politicians we will not tolerate or allow the continuation of big business controlling, running our country, or those who support them.
    Public Option is the only true plan. It will make the insurance companies become competitive, accountable and perhaps bring back some integrity to the health care entities. It is the only option
    that truly benefits middle class, less fortunate and disablded.
    It is time for the silent majority to speak out loud and clear.

    September 22, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. Ben in Texas

    The Baucus bill is a testament to how intransigent the right wing is in Congress. The bill is so watered down that your fingers would get wet touching it, and yet Baucus can't even get Olympia Snow to sign on, much less any other Repugnant.

    The Democrats are a bunch of pussies. Scared they might offend somebody, lose a vote, or actually accomplish health care reform. They have long since traded away any remotely progressive ideas for reform, and they've gotten exactly zero in return.

    As Americans, our choice is clear: Vote for evil, or vote for incompetence.

    September 22, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Fair is Fair

    It's not passing the senate if the public option is in it.

    It's not passing the house if the public option option is out of it.

    Let's see what the president does when he's faced with this conundrum.

    Nuclear option? Not if you value your collective political lives.

    September 22, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
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