Baucus Plan Draws Fire From all Sides
By Ben Pershing
Speaking on 60 Minutes Sunday night, President Obama recalled an adviser telling him that health-care reform "will be pronounced dead at least four or five times" before finally succeeding. This week could be one of those times, or it could be the rare moment in the debate so far when Obama's fellow optimists have the upper hand.
Max Baucus said Monday that he was very near unveiling the Finance Committee's reform proposal, and that it would address "a host of GOP concerns, including blocking illegal immigrants from gaining access to subsidized insurance, urging limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and banning federal subsidies for abortion," the Washington Post writes. The plan represents Baucus' last, best effort to attract Republican votes, and if it doesn't work, the chairman will likely claim that he did his best to meet members of the minority halfway. The early indicators are that Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi won't get on board, as the two Republicans "have requested numerous major changes" and "catalogued their concerns in documents sent to" Baucus, the New York Times reports. Jonathan Cohn points out that "regardless of which Republicans sign on, affordability is going to be a major source of controversy, both within the Finance Committee and outside of it."
Baucus' fellow Democrats have concerns of their own, the Wall Street Journal writes. Ron Wyden fears that the plan's subsidies would be too small to make coverage affordable. And John Kerry doesn't like the new taxes being used to pay for reform, including a levy on the most expensive health plans. They and other Democrats will likely offer numerous amendments to Baucus' bill during markup. Politico writes that the coming fights over issues like Medicaid, abortion and illegal immigrants aren't just about policy details, they're about fundamental philosophical differences between the two parties.
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