Time running out for bipartisan health compromise

Sep 08, 2009 By LARRY MARGASAK , Associated Press Writer
President Barack Obama speaks at the AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic at Coney Island in Cincinnati, Monday, Sept. 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(AP) -- Time is running out for a two-party compromise on health care as a bipartisan group of six Finance Committee senators considers a new proposal that might be the last, best hope for an overhaul agreement.

The six were to meet Tuesday on Sen. Max Baucus' proposal to create nonprofit insurance plans to compete with those offered by profit-making companies. The proposal by the committee chairman is noteworthy for the piece that's missing: a government-run alternative favored by liberal Democrats.

President , who will address Congress and the nation on health care Wednesday night, told a Labor Day audience that it's time for insurance companies to share accountability for problems in the system. He was not addressing the Baucus plan.

Four congressional committees so far have produced partisan plans for revamping the nation's . Baucus, D-Mont., said he would move forward with a plan if there's no bipartisan agreement by Sept. 15.

Baucus would impose a fee on insurance companies to help finance coverage for uninsured Americans.

It's not clear whether that would win support of two key Republicans in the group, Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Mike Enzi of Wyoming. The Baucus proposal reflected many of their priorities, chief among them the decision not to include the so-called public option to compete with private insurers.

Democratic sources close to the negotiations, who were not authorized to be quoted by name, disclosed the fee and other details of the Baucus proposal. One source said the proposal included suggestions from all six members.

A spokesman for Enzi said the Wyoming senator remains actively involved in the negotiations, and he is reviewing the Baucus proposal to make sure it keeps a handle on costs and focuses on concerns folks brought to his attention during August.

Besides establishing a new way to purchase coverage for Americans who have trouble getting and keeping health insurance, the Baucus plan would allow Americans to keep their own doctors.

exchanges, with information on different plans and prices, would allow small groups and individuals to buy policies at lower rates. Medicaid would be expanded to cover more low-income people. Nonprofit cooperatives would be established as an alternative to for-profit insurance companies, giving consumers more choices. Tax credits would allow low- and middle-income Americans to buy private coverage.

The package is estimated to cost under $900 billion over 10 years.

If insurance companies passed the new fee along to customers, they would run the risk of losing out in a newly competitive environment, a source said, reflecting Baucus' thinking.

The package would make it harder to pass along this fee. Insurers would be required to release their administrative costs included in premiums and profits. That provision is designed to help customers determine whether they are getting a fair deal at a good price.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, accompanying Obama on a trip to Ohio on Monday, told reporters the administration would be pleased if the Finance Committee throughout the course of the next few days would "pull together the strands of many different pieces of legislation to improve for all Americans."

One Democratic source said Finance Committee members were encouraged to suggest modifications, although Baucus advised senators that any proposals that would increase costs should include provisions to offset any increase.

---

Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.
©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

GOP senators: Bipartisan health deal tougher now

Jun 04, 2009

(AP) -- Republican senators say chances of reaching a bipartisan deal to overhaul health care dimmed after President Barack Obama issued a letter strongly supporting a new public health insurance plan.

House Democrats to open hearings on health bill

Jun 23, 2009

(AP) -- House Democrats are pushing forward with a partisan health care bill even as a key Senate Democrat labors to achieve an elusive bipartisan compromise on President Barack Obama's top legislative priority.

Senators dig in on massive health care legislation

Jun 17, 2009

(AP) -- Eye-popping new cost estimates for President Barack Obama's plan to overhaul the U.S. health care system are forcing majority Democrats to scale back their plans to subsidize coverage for the uninsured.

Obama outlines health care plan for all

Jun 04, 2009

(AP) -- President Barack Obama says he's open to requiring all Americans to buy health insurance, as long as the plan provides a "hardship waiver" to exempt poor people from having to pay.

House eyes new taxes as senators pare health bill

Jun 19, 2009

(AP) -- House Democrats have lots of potential targets for higher taxes as they aim to expand health care coverage, from wealthy Americans and the nation's employers to anyone who pops the top on a soft drink.

White House, hospitals reach deal on health care

Jul 08, 2009

(AP) -- The nation's hospitals will give up $155 billion in future Medicare and Medicaid payments to help defray the cost of President Barack Obama's health care plan, a concession the White House hopes will boost an overhaul ...

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

3 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.