Subjects: Health policy
As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Montana Senator Max Baucus is right in the eye of Hurricane Health Reform.
A Democrat that hasn’t lost an election since 1972 in a state that has voted for the Republican presidential candidate every time but once over that period, Baucus sometimes infuriates party partisans.
Take the time for example, when he lambasted HillaryCare’s proposals for employer mandates and regional insurance cooperatives. They “smack of excess government and the smell of socialism,” he said back then.
So far though, the Big O couldn’t be happier with the support he’s received from Baucus on this health reform go-round.
In describing the current challenge, the Montana Democrat told the Washington Post “we’re doing something. It’s holistic, it’s our health-care apparatus. We don’t even have a system in America, really. (People) know the train is leaving the station. There’s a sense of inevitability here.”
His Finance Committee is trying to draft deficit-neutral legislation that expands coverage and cuts costs. He is said to favor an individual mandate, in which people are required to purchase health insurance, and a tax on employer-provided health benefits, issues known to rankle Republicans.
At the same time, Baucus’ track record shows he has upheld the Finance Committee’s bipartisan traditions. In the 8 years he and Republican Charles Grassley have run Finance, just 4 bills have passed on straight party-line votes.
“That’s a pretty good record of bipartisanship,” Grassley told the Post.
But then he turned ominous. “(Baucus has) a large share of his caucus who thinks government can run health care better than the private sector, and they want that intervention,” Grassley said.
The Montanan responded like a Blue-stater. “They may get to the point where they’re not there,” he said of Republicans. “The president (and) I want a bipartisan bill. I hope that happens. But I don’t know. Crunch time is coming up pretty soon.”