According to multiple sources, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) to stop trying to negotiate with committee Republicans and to begin pushing his health care bill out of committee.
Reid expressed concerns that Baucus’s proposed legislation would not have a public plan but would include language removing the deduction for employer-based health care coverage. Public plan proponents have been increasingly vocal this week, with House Democrats yesterday criticizing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel over comments suggesting the public plan was not a mandatory part of health care reform.
Reports of the criticism came after yesterday’s weekly Democratic leadership meeting. Roll Call reports that Reid’s message was delivered through an intermediary after the majority leader had consulted with the caucus leaders. The newspaper also reports that Reid’s message told Baucus the lack of a public plan would cost his bill 10-15 Democratic votes, and that losing so many in the caucus was not worth the effort to gain a few Republican votes.
Additionally, concern has been raised in the Democratic caucus over the employer-deduction proposal after polling shows 70% of Americans are opposed to removing the deduction. An idea being discussed is a surtax on families with income above $250,000 as an alternative to pay for the reform legislation, but there is a general uncertainty as to what is going to be used to pay for the Finance Committee’s legislation. Senator Baucus acknowledged as much by saying: “It’s a very complex bill. People are getting skittish all around.”
If you were a member of Congress, how would you propose to pay for health care reform?
The American Hospital Association, Catholic Health Association, and Federation of American Hospitals will announce with Vice President Joe Biden $155 billion in health care savings over 10 years… Washington Post examines the idea of “rationing” in health care reform… Congressional Budget Office scores the House Tri-Committee health care bill (subscription) at $1.5 trillion over ten years, House leaders expected to announce their revenue raisers today… the HELP Committee finishes debate on the long-term care sections of their health care bill.