White House, Baucus may draft health bills

Sept. 5, 2009 at 1:50 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The White House may draft its own healthcare legislation if efforts at a congressional compromise fail, sources say.

CNN, citing sources in the administration, said the bill would be aimed at convincing Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, to become an ally. Snowe supports a plan that would have no public insurance option but would have a trigger to establish one if private insurance does not fill the gaps in coverage.

A spokesman for President Barack Obama said Friday no formal bill has been drafted by the White House.

"The president has been reviewing all of the various legislative proposals, but no decision has been made about whether formal legislation will be presented," Dan Pfeiffer, deputy communications director, said.

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., also is reportedly planning to introduce his own bill.

Citing unnamed sources, The Washington Post reported Saturday that Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, applied pressure in a conference call to the five other members of the committee, also known as the Gang of Six, on Friday as Obama prepared to address Congress next week on healthcare reform.

The newspaper said Baucus indicated he would propose his own healthcare bill based on two months of exhaustive policy work by the committee by Tuesday if no agreement was forthcoming. As it stands, Obama is faced with a choice of preserving the liberal ideal of a government-run healthcare option to compete with private health plans or compromising with conservative Democrats and Republicans in scrapping the so-called public option.

Baucus told the Post he and his Finance Committee colleagues would meet Tuesday."

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