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Baucus: White House 'Wants a Bipartisan Deal'

By Paul Kane

Exiting a 75-minute meeting tonight on Captiol Hill, Senate Democrats said the White House remained supportive of their effort to find GOP support for health-care legislation despite internal Democratic disputes over the inclusion of a public option in the emerging bill.

"Rahm said he wants a bipartisan plan," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told reporters, after leaving the meeting with President Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Baucus dismissed suggestions that negotiations had hit such a rough patch that Democrats would use fast-track rules to pass legislation on a party-line vote. Sen Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a key member of the committee, also said the White
House supports continued outreach to Senate Republicans.

Emanuel told reporters Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) summoned him to the meeting, which consisted of members of the Finance and health committees -- which are drafting somewhat competing versions of the hallmark legislation.

"Senator Reid wanted us to hear some of their thoughts and ideas," said Emanuel, who said every senator was given a turn to air his or her views on the issue.

Each senator leaving the meeting described it as productive, although Baucus called it a "necessary" gathering. His panel has not included a publicly funded alternative to private insurance in his draft legislation, in part because of entrenched GOP opposition to such a plan.

The health committee intends to include the public plan, setting an internal dispute among Democrats over resolving the issue later this summer.

By Paul Volpe  |  June 23, 2009; 8:43 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform , Senate  
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Next: Today on the Hill


it is time for us working/middle class montanans to tell max baucus that we absolutely positively want a public option for health care and it is non-negotiable.

time for max to get the message from people he is supposed to work for....not the health insurance corporations who he thinks he works for....

Posted by: problembear | June 23, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Dear President Obama,

You know that the Republicans in Congress have not put forward a workable alternative to our current unsustainable health insurance system. Are you aware that millions of voters do not know that its the Republicans that have blocked affordable health care for decades? They think Dems are protecting insurance industry profits because that's what they hear on Faux News -- Republican propaganda 24/7. Why don't you use your bully pulpit to tell the public how the Republicans' public words are the oppocite of their legislative policies that always take from the poor to enrich the rich.

Posted by: owens1 | June 24, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

A draft report by the inspector general of Health and Human Services — circulating on Capitol Hill and leaked this week — determines that Medicare may have paid $2.8 billion in improper or fake claims for medical equipment in 2006.

That’s an error rate of 31.5%, in a single corner of this colossal entitlement. “This report doesn’t surprise me,” fumed Democrat Pete Stark.

Medicare’s administrative costs are just 3% of total spending, while the private sector hits 11% to 14%.

But insurance companies spend money to screen their claims for fraud. Medicare automatically pays more than 95% of the bills it receives. This lack of scrutiny reduces overhead, but it makes the program highly vulnerable to abuse.

Posted by: sagereader | June 24, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

The public option is Obama's ploy to increase government control. Too bad it is a terrible choice.

The Fraser Institute, a Vancouver, B.C.-based think tank, has done yeoman work keeping track of Canada's socialized health-care system. It has come out with its 13th annual waiting-list survey.

It shows the average time a patient waited between referral from a general practitioner to treatment rose from 16.5 weeks in 2001-02 to 17.7 weeks in 2003. Saskatchewan had the longest average waiting time of nearly 30 weeks, while Ontario had the shortest, 14 weeks.

Waiting lists also exist for diagnostic procedures such as computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound. Depending on province and diagnostic procedure, the wait can range from two to 24 weeks.

We don't want this break down in medical services to happen in the America!!!

Posted by: sagereader | June 24, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Single payer health care is subject to bureaucratic and political rationing and driven by political and budgetary pressures. Adverse effects, including:

Long waits and reduced quality. In Britain, over 800,000 patients are waiting for hospital care. In Canada, the average wait between a general practitioner referral and a specialty consultation has been over 17 weeks.

Beyond queuing for care or services, single-payer sys­tems are often characterized by strict drug for­mularies, limited treatment options, and discrimination by age in the provision of care. Price controls, a routine feature of such sys­tems, also result in reduced drug, technology, and medical device research.

Funding crises. Because individuals remain insulated from the direct costs of health care, as in many third-party payment systems, health care appears to be “free.” As a result, demand expands while government officials devise ways to control costs. The shortest route is by pro­viding fewer products and services through explicit and implicit rationing.

Who gets care. Beyond favoritism in the provision of care for the politically well-con­nected, single-payer health care systems often restrain costs by limiting surgeries for the eld­erly, restricting dialysis, withholding care from very premature infants, reducing the number of intensive care beds, limiting MRI availability, and restricting access to specialists.

Labor strikes and personnel shortages. In 2004, in British Columbia, Canada, a health worker strike resulted in the cancellation of 5,300 surgeries and numerous MRI examinations, CT scans, and lab tests.

Canadians have a shortage of physicians, and the recruitment and retention of doctors in Britain has become a chronic problem.

Outdated facilities and medical equipment. Advances in medical technology are often seen in terms of their costs rather than their benefits, and investment is slower. For example, an esti­mated 60 percent of radiological equipment in Canada is technically outdated.

Posted by: sagereader | June 24, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Some people cite the European model for single payer healthcare. England's National Health Service is moribund and others are not doing well either.

Here is an analysis of Germany:

Technology. The U.S. technology outstrips Germany. It has four times as many MRI units per capita and twice as many CT scanners per capita.

Waiting Times: Care is frequently rationed. For instance, the elderly and those with terminal illnesses are often denied care. Since hospitals are run through a global budget, this can reduce their incentive to treat those with serious, expensive-to-treat medical conditions.

Physician Compensation. The purchasing power of German physician’s wages is about 20% of that of physicians in the U.S. In 2005, there were physician strikes over low wage compensation. Further, physicians have to deal with significant reimbursement caps and budget restrictions. Physicians often only attempt to provide the minimum care necessary.

Posted by: sagereader | June 24, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse


It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.


We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and demand that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

God Bless You


Posted by: JackSmith1 | June 25, 2009 3:01 AM | Report abuse

It's clear that heathcare reform is turning into a sham. The insurance industry has Congress in their back pockets with millions of dollars in bribe money (er- campaign donations) to ensure nothing upsets their gravy train. The only way we will have true heathcare reform is to get profit-greedy insurance companies out of the picture. As for all the scare stories about bureaucrats controlling your healthcare- what do you think private for-profit insurance companies do? Every decision they make is based on keeping as much of your money as they can for management and stockholders. I'd trust Uncle Sam with my healthcare before I'd trust the profit hungry bureaucrats at Aetna, etc.

Posted by: nakayle | June 26, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

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