Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Max Baucus Changes Health Bill Over Dem Outcry

"The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee was revising his sweeping health care bill Monday to address serious concerns from fellow Democrats and a key Republican about insurance costs, part of his ongoing struggle to deliver on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.

The changes -- which include possibly halving a penalty for people who don't comply with a new requirement to purchase insurance -- came a day ahead of a committee session beginning Tuesday to amend and vote on the bill, which Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., hopes his panel will approve by the end of the week.

"We've come a long, long way to satisfying the affordability concerns," Baucus said Monday evening after meeting with committee Democrats.

"There will still be amendments offered, as there should be ... But my sense is the meeting today went a long way to dealing with a lot of the concerns that senators had," he said.

Baucus' 10-year, $856 billion package would extend coverage to about 29 million Americans who lack it now and institute insurance market reforms, such as prohibiting higher premiums for women or the denial of coverage to sick people. It would make almost everyone buy insurance or pay a fee, give subsidies to the poor to help them buy coverage and create new online exchanges where small businesses and people without government or employer-provided insurance could shop for plans and compare prices."

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