Baucus to push ahead with healthcare bill

Sept. 9, 2009 at 1:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus says he will move forward with a healthcare proposal regardless of support by Republican committee members.

The Montana Democrat said he intends to unveil a chairman's bill next week in committee and anticipates work on it in two weeks.

"The time has come for action and we will act," Baucus told reporters. "This is our moment. We have spent many weeks -- months -- on this issue and now is the time to move forward."

Baucus said he told ranking Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa of his intentions.

"I very much hope some Republicans will be on board," Baucus said. "But if there are not any, we'll (still) move ahead. My door is open."

There's still time for bipartisan support on the committee, Baucus said, since the measure will be before the panel for at least two weeks.

"The main point," he said, "I'm moving forward and very much look forward to Republicans participating" in the bill's markup. "I do expect some to be on board."

Republicans submitted their proposals by the 10 a.m. Wednesday deadline, Baucus said.

He said he would present all committee members' proposals to the so-called Group of Six, a bipartisan group of committee members working on a compromise measure.

Instead of the contentious government-run public health insurance option, Baucus said his bill would include language that would set up federally chartered, not-for-profit, member-owned healthcare cooperatives as an alternative to traditional private insurers. Elements of the bill were released during the weekend.

"I put down a mark (bill) similar to the proposal ... issued over weekend," Baucus said. "I think that (proposal) is close to a measure that will pass both the committee and the Senate."

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