Moderately Big Health Care News

by Jonathan Chait | September 4, 2009

For a late Friday afternoon on the cusp of Labor Day, there's actually a lot of meaty health care reform news today.

Item #1: Chuck Todd reports that President Obama is likely to embrace a compromise on the public option: a trigger, under which it would go into effect "in any state where fewer than 95 percent of people have access to affordable coverage." My reaction: I'm okay with the policy, love the politics. This is Olympia Snowe's idea, and politically speaking, any Olympia Snowe idea is a good idea.

Item #2: Max Baucus -- again! -- has told his fellow members of the Gang of Six that it's time to either make a health care bill or not. Here's the New York Times:

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee told colleagues on Friday that he would soon lay down a proposal for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system.

The chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, signaled his intentions in a telephone conference call with five other committee members who have been struggling for months to forge a bipartisan bill, according to an official familiar with the call.

The official said Mr. Baucus had told the group that he was going to present some sort of formal chairman’s mark, or proposal, as early as Saturday. In doing so, he would taking a big step toward forcing a final decision by the group as to whether it sees any realistic prospect of a bipartisan agreement.

“I am committed to getting health care reform done — done soon and done right,” Mr. Baucus said in a statement. ...

The official familiar with Friday’s conference call said there was a clear sense that Mr. Baucus was trying to move to an endgame, and that Republicans would have to decide whether to go to the next stage of the legislative process. In that stage, known as a mark-up, the full committee can debate, amend and rewrite legislation before it goes to the Senate floor.

I've been fooled before by Baucus moving toward closure and then wimping out. This report from the Washington Post, though, seems a bit more definitive:

A bipartisan team of Senate negotiators trying to craft a compromise health reform package aimed at winning support from both parties held a "productive" discussion Friday, their leader said, and will convene again next week to determine whether they can reach a deal or will have to abandon their efforts. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) made clear that he is committed to moving forward with health reform legislation "in the near future" with or without an agreement among the six negotiators, according to a source close to the discussions.

Will Baucus actually follow through this time?

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-plank/moderately-big-health-care-news