Sunday, October 11, 2009

Democrats Force Changes In Baucus Health Bill

Written by Julie Rovner
Posted by Stefanie Marty

The health overhaul bill expected to emerge this week from the Senate Finance Committee was supposed to be the one to win at least some Republican backing. But committee Chairman Max Baucus ultimately found himself scrambling to win the backing of enough Democrats to get the bill through.

As the committee wrapped up its formal debate around 2 a.m. last Friday, its top Republican, Iowa's Chuck Grassley, pronounced the verdict Baucus least wanted to hear.

"You know, there's a product here that most of the people on my side, maybe all of the people on my side, may not vote for next week," he said.

Fight Over Children's Health Insurance

The bill Baucus originally brought to his committee three weeks ago was mostly the product of months-long negotiations between three Democrats on the committee and three Republicans. In order to try to win some of those Republican votes, Baucus made many concessions, some of which made Democrats furious.

One big one: The bill would have eliminated the government's popular Children's Health Insurance Program for many children, instead making them eligible for subsidized private insurance through new insurance exchanges. That didn't sit very well with people such as West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller, who helped create the CHIP program.

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