Baucus Finally Steps In on Health Care

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Baucus. Photo: Getty Images

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, who has dragged his feet on pulling together a health-care reform bill for his committee, has started circulating one among members of both parties. In anticipation of Obama's big health-care address on Wednesday night (which was partially planned, according to the Times, to urge Baucus into action), the Montana Democrat has started working on getting a majority of his 23-member committee onboard. His plan, which joins four others approved by House and Senate committees before the August recess, includes new fees for some members of the health-care industry — but not individual users — in order to try to offset giant deficits. It also offers the option of lower-cost, emergency-type coverage for catastrophic illnesses for young people ages 25 and below, and it would expand Medicaid coverage to some people currently ineligible. Baucus also supports state health-care co-ops, as opposed to the public option President Obama prefers. The White House hasn't yet commented on the proposal and whether it would be used as a template they'll get behind — presumably, among other things, they'd have received it much more eagerly if Baucus had actually pulled it together this summer, like they asked.

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