Baucus Panel Making Headway on Health Care Reform Package

By Staff Report

Jul. 22, 2009

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, said that a bipartisan team of negotiators have locked down “two major issues” that will be part of the broad framework for health care reform, but he declined to provide details.

“We’re making significant headway,” Baucus told reporters. “I’m probably more upbeat and optimistic now compared to where we were earlier.”

Emerging from a closed-door meeting, Baucus said the group focused on insurance issues, including cost and coverage questions that have arisen over individual and employer mandates.

Meanwhile, the committee is searching for ways to bridge a $100 billion to $200 billion gap in financing the legislative package, which likely will cost about $1 trillion over the next decade.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, said that several tax options are being considered, two of which would focus on the subsidies for health care coverage.

“One discussion has been having some levy applied to plans that are worth more than $25,000 a year,” he said, adding that only about 1 percent of plans would apply under that benchmark. “Another option is to have a levy on companies that issue those kinds of plans.”

The latter proposal would not directly affect the individual who has that type of coverage, Conrad said.

The group plans to meet throughout the day on Wednesday, July 22, to review policy and financing options.

Filed by Matthew DoBias of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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