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The Waiting Room

Here’s a quick wrap-up of today’s health care news.

One day before the Senate Finance Committee is set to present the nearly 600 proposed amendments to Chairman Max Baucus’s (D-Mont.) health care plan, the amendments presented by fellow “Gang of Six” member, Sen. Olympia Snowe’s (R-Maine), made headlines today. The most significant change to the Baucus bill proposed by Snow is a “trigger” mechanism for the public option – in which a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers would be “triggered” if private insurance companies fail to meet targets for coverage and cost-containment. She has also proposed an amendment to reduce the individual mandate penalty — the tax penalty assessed to qualifying individuals who fail to purchase health insurance as required by the legislation — which the Baucus bill currently sets between $750 and $3,800. Snowe also offered an amendment that would eliminate the individual mandate penalty, in favor of a vague “defined minimum contribution” instead of a mandate. As Ezra Klein writes: “The devil, however, will be in the details, and right now there aren’t any.”

The Wonk Room runs through some of the Republican offerings and finds they include “two separate amendments prohibiting funding for ACORN, reduced affordability credits, and eliminatedall industry fees.’”

Politico reports that Baucus will present a modified version of his bill tomorrow that uses the $28 billion surplus that the Congressional Budget Office projected the initial bill first proposal would create. Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) hopes to begin debating the Finance billon the Senate floor next week will be heard — a tough proposition with 534 amendments to sort through in the committee, and many more sure to come when the bill goes to the full Senate.

Finally, following Fox News host Bill O’Reilly’s surprising endorsement of the public option last week, the liberal group Americans United for Change has produced a Web video featuring Papa Bear himself. Chris Good writes we shouldn’t “be surprised to see the left use more of O’Reilly and the clip from last week in its push for a public option and health reform in general.”

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