The Waiting Room
Here’s a quick wrap-up of today’s health care news.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today presented his long-awaited proposal to overhaul health care. While Baucus calls his $856 billion plan (though in to Baucus, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would cost a total of $774 billion) a “good” and “balanced bill” that “can pass the Senate,” it has been met with sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) — both members of the bipartisan “Gang of Six” senators who negotiated the bill — said they aren’t thrilled with the final product. Enzi said he’s “disappointed that deadlines took precedence over agreement of the bipartisan group of Finance Committee members, as we worked on a final health care bill.” He added that the plan is too costly for him to support.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) also isn’t satisfied with the plan:
“This is a first step in the process, and those of us as members of the bipartisan Group of Six fully intend to keep meeting, moving forward and continuing to work with the chairman during the committee process toward crafting a bill that I, and hopefully other Republican members of the Finance Committee, can support.”
The Baucus bill, which lacks a government-run insurance program favored by liberals, is also in the Democrats’ line of fire. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the bill already passed by the House “clearly does more to make coverage affordable for more Americans and provides more competition to drive insurance companies to charge lower premiums and improve coverage.”
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who said yesterday that there was “no way” he would vote for the Baucus bill in its current form, signaled that he would have “dozens of amendments” during committee markup.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) kept her cards closer to her chest:
“I’m going to remain open,” said Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu. “I’m committed to a more market-based approach.”
Finally, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) made some news when he declined to predict unanimous opposition from House Republicans to a Democratic health care reform package.