Senate Finance Members Offer Changes to Health Care Reform Bill

By Staff Report

Sep. 21, 2009

Members of the pivotal Senate Finance Committee have offered 564 amendments to a broad health care reform blueprint inked by Sen. Max Baucus and released Wednesday, September 16.

The sheer number and scope of the amendments, though not unexpected, threaten to strain the demeanor and test the mettle of a committee that has always prided itself on its ability to be as cordial as it is efficient.

Baucus said he expects the committee to begin considering the amendments as early as Tuesday, September 22, though it’s unclear how long the process—known as a “mark-up”—will take.

The amendments have been divided into three categories: those that affect the delivery system, those that affect the expansion of health coverage, and those that relate to how the bill will be financed.

Many of the amendments could potentially upset the fragile balance Baucus has tried to maintain to pick up a handful of needed Republican votes.

Some amendments would essentially kill the idea of nonprofit “co-op” groups, which would be developed to help lower insurance costs. Others would increase Medicaid eligibility, lower the age group for Medicare eligibility, and develop an employer mandate much stronger than the one already included in a bill.

“Improving the proposed Finance Committee legislation is a critical step in the legislative process—getting this wrong is not an option,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) said in a written statement.

To help pay for the amendments, many of the lawmakers suggested funding mechanisms previously considered by Baucus and a small, bipartisan team of negotiators, but nonetheless were left on the cutting-room floor.

Rockefeller, for instance, would use a cap on itemized deductions at 35 percent to pay for part of his slate of changes.

President Barack Obama has championed such a provision.

Still, others want money to come from other industry players, such as insurance companies. Proposals to close corporate tax loopholes are also being considered.

The Senate Finance Committee is made up of 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans.

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

Stay informed and connected. Get human resources news and HR features via Workforce Management’s Twitter feed or RSS feeds for mobile devices and news readers.

What’s New at

blog workforce

Come see what we’re building in the world of predictive employee scheduling, superior labor insights and next-gen employee apps. We’re on a mission to automate workforce management for hourly employees and bring productivity, optimization and engagement to the frontline.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

Staffing Management

Managing employee time-off requests: A guide for business owners

Summary Vacation, sick time, PTO banks, and unpaid leave are only a few forms of employee time off — Mo...

workforce blog


Labor analytics: A how-to guide for company leadership

Make sure to start small, clean your data, use data from a variety of sources and use desired business ...

data analytics, employee data, HR Tech, people analytics, talent management

workforce blog


Why tattleware isn’t the solution for underperforming teams

If your employees can take their smartphones out of their pockets to circumvent your efforts, how can y...

employee monitoring, HR technology, tattleware