Senate Negotiators Push Forward With Focus on Cost of Health Care Reform

By Staff Report

Aug. 24, 2009

A team of three Republicans and three Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee has made progress in talks on bipartisan health care reform, Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, announced.

Baucus, along with ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and members Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, participated in a teleconference to hammer out remaining differences on the path to reform and potentially avoid steps to push a bill forward without broad Republican support.

Discussions involved “an increased emphasis on affordability and reducing costs, and our efforts moving forward will reflect that focus,” Baucus said in a written statement. “We have come a long way, will continue our work throughout August and plan to meet again before the Senate returns in September.”

A spokesman for Grassley declined to comment on the talks.

However, in a statement, Enzi cautioned that health care reform will fail if the GOP is left out of the debate.

“If we keep working together, we can get a bill that will work and will have broad support in Congress and from the American people,” said Enzi, who is also the ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

In a radio address Thursday, August 20, President Barack Obama said he was “confident” that health care reform would get done.

As far as negotiating with Republicans, he said, “My attitude has always been: Let’s see if we can get this done with some consensus. I would love to have more Republicans engaged and involved in this process.”

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

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