After holding a private session with all members of the Senate Finance Committee yesterday, Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said that any bill passing the Senate will have a public option and despite hesitation from committee members he is dedicated to passing legislation before the August recess.
The public plan has long been considered essential by most Democrats but a non-starter by Republicans. Baucus stated that, in addition to opposition over the public plan, he has received complaints from members that they had not had time to review actual legislative language, nor had a chance to see a CBO score of the proposals to see the cost and what offsets are needed. He acknowledged these concerns but also stated that he would stick to a timeline of unveiling language the week of June 15th and begin mark-ups the week of June 22nd.
After the meeting, ranking member Charles Grassley (R-IA) voiced his frustration over the discussions: “Our caucus is very, very much against a public option,” he said. “It is just very, very difficult. But I suppose that somewhere out there is something politically realistic that is not a public option that satisfies Republicans and Democrats but isn’t a government-run system.” He and other Republicans who participated in the discussions stated their opposition any bill including a public option and a mandate for employers to provide health insurance.
On the House side, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) held a press conference today unveiling his timeline for his committee’s health care bill. He expects to release language in mid-June and have a mark-up after the July 4th recess. Rep. Rangel held a meeting of the committee’s Democrats to discuss various components of health care reform, but did not discuss specific funding mechanisms.
Baucus staff sat down with the business community after his committee walk-through (subscription)….. Is Senator Kennedy’s illness preventing health care reform?…. Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson on the proposed health care reforms.