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. Enough

    Just say NO!

    September 22, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. Mississippi Mike

    Now everyone will have health insurance but there won't be enough doctors. In no way is this anything other than a lose-lose situation if you already have health insurance.

    September 22, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. LN

    Status Quo is unacceptable. Status Quo is a fiscal nightmare. Provide health care to those least able to pay in the most expensive venue after its reached catastrophic levels. Yeah, thats a business plan for failure. Duh! Anything would be better than what we have now. With everyone covered we can focus on wellness not sickness. And Baucas has the same Federal Employee Health Benefit plan as 8 million other government employees and retirees. it ain't no cadillac plan.

    September 22, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  4. philm

    I wonder about people who use language so poorly? What does he say he will fix??

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

    "No one should go bankrupt because they get sick. This bill would fix that," Baucus said."

    September 22, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Jim

    I don't see what drives down costs in his proposal. Insurance companies would have to cut their profit margins if we added a non-profit insurance choice to the mix. If not, then I think we should start treating the insurance companies as closely regulated utilities and keep their margins down that way.

    September 22, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. Andrew

    Mandatory health insurance without the government option will kill this. I am a strong Obama supporter, but if he signs this handout to the insurance companies then I will never vote for him again.

    September 22, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. Andrew

    Would the right wing idiots stop calling this nationalized health care? Just because your Fox News overlords call it that doesn't mean its true.

    September 22, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. JGB

    What are they crying about? The Democrats are in control and can do this without a single Republican vote, so quit claiming the Republicans are stalling this nightmare. Democrats know it is crap and don't want to take 100% responsibility.

    September 22, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. Jay T.

    When I read Baucus's joke of a Bill (or, at least the highlights from it) I, for the first time in this entire health care circus, prayed for the Southern Birthers to show up, burn the bill under moonlight and do a little Witch Dance over its ashes. How could a Democrat- the Party of the worker, unions, the middle class- write a bill that so pinches the middle class? I'll be thankful when Baucus is gone. We know where his sentiments lie now.

    September 22, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. Jimmy

    DEMOCRATS – We do NOT want this, the majority of Americans do NOT want this. Quit blaming the Republicans, you are in complete control.

    REPUBLICANS – Just say NO!

    September 22, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. Brian-PA

    For all those out there calling this Nationalized health care. Try reading the bill. There is no public option. This is not a single payer system. Quit trying to scare people by throwing out talking points issued by the insurance special interest. Lets get this bill passed in whatever way possible, amendments or no.

    September 22, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. Paul

    At first I was for reforming the rescissions, purgings, denials of doctor-ordered procedures/treatments so that the patient would get a fair shake – have insurance that actually insured wellness, and adding a co-op and public option. I thought that was good enough.

    But then along comes the insurance companys' millions upon millions campaign to hold onto the status quo and in the mad sweep along goes Max Baucus with his $3 million collection. Result: no public option but a mandate to be covered.


    The insurance companies had gotten fat on our premuims over the years. The amount of money they have is staggering. Time's up for them.

    They could have leveled the playing field, could have gone with the reforms that are needed. But they just threw money at everything.

    Single payor! Now! Implement HR676!

    September 22, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. You Lie II

    I'd rather have no insurance than to have this bill passed. Why should tax payers have to pay for every one to have insurance. You want insurance than pay for it. Over 75% of people with out insurance chose not to have insurance. Thia is just another ploy for Obama's control which won't happen!

    September 22, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. Mike in Montana

    Without the 'public option' in the new proposed health care reform legislation bill..., Senator Max Baucus D-MT.., you can 'forget' about my vote, my families vote and friends in the next election. Mike in Montana

    September 22, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Luc Fillion

    What about the children? Have you heard of SCHIPS? You inject emotion into something that should be plainly solved logically. We should be letting insurance companies compete across state lines; tackling tort reform; incentivising and supporting physicians to take the primary care route and staying in the field; tax incentives for individuals/small businesses which would help them keep their insurance; mandate pre-existing condition laws and make policies portable. These are just a few things that can be done. Do not try to overhaul a system that just needs to be tweaked!

    September 22, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. CAL

    Presdient Obama please stop trying to appease those republicians, thwy are not going to support you because you are the President. The hell away with bipartisianism, they don't want to work with you. I personally feel that boener, graham and mcconnelly are determined to see you fail and they will do whatever to see that happen. President Obama you are the head man in charge, forget them sign the bill you promised the american people.

    September 22, 2009 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  17. Jimmy

    Obama himself is on tape saying he is for Universal health care. Now he claims he is not, only to get you fools to fall for his LIES. Just like Wilson said............YOU LIE

    September 22, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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