All Sides Unhappy with Baucus's Bill

The Senate Finance Committee will start voting next week on the health plan unveiled by the Senator Max Baucus.

After months of negotiation the bill is an attempt to strike a crucial balance between liberal and conservative goals: It is less expensive than the House versions and does not include the public option. But, tailoring the bill’s provisions to appeal to Republicans could alienate liberal members and still has not won the support of a single Republican.The Congressional Budget Office said that while Mr. Baucus’s bill would actually reduce the cumulative total of the federal deficit, it would still leave 25 million people uninsured in 2019.

The Times’s Robert Pear and David Herszenhorn lay out the details and explain the key differences between Mr. Baucus’s proposal and the House versions in an article this morning. The big question for Democrats is how to keep all 59 members of the party united and attract at least one Republican to pass an overhaul measure, The Times’s Carl Hulse and Farhana Hossain take a look at the math.

As lawmakers, lobbyists and the American public examine the details of the 223-page proposal — which satisfies the majority of the requirements President Obama laid out in his speech last week — Mr. Obama will hold yet another public rally this morning, The New York Times reports.

It was also reported, the latest health overhaul plan circulating on Capitol Hill gives health insurers, drug makers and large employers reasons to heave sighs of relief, sparing them the higher costs and more burdensome rules included in other Democratic-written alternatives. Industry players that have already struck bargains with President Barack Obama's administration and leading Democrats to help pay for revamping the health system saw most of those deals left intact — and in some cases sweetened — in the $856 billion proposal unveiled Wednesday by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the Finance Committee chairman, The Associated Press reports.

One day after Baucus released his long-awaited compromise health care measure, the most common theme in the coverage is just how unhapy all sides are with both the bill and its author. "It appears that no one is happy with ... Baucus -- and that may be the best news President Obama has had in months," the Washington Post writes. The White House gave a tepid response, but the administration is certatinly happy to have a bill that moves the process forward. And business groups and other private-sector stakeholders either responded positively or were muted in their criticism.

The bill's price tag -- $774 billion -- is either the best or worst thing about it, depending on whom you ask. Fiscal hawks will cheer that it meets Obama's goal of expanding coverage without adding to the deficit, but many Democrats complain that it mandates individuals buy health insurance while providing inadequate subsidies to help them pay for it. Kaiser Health News writes that the question of how much people can really afford to pay for insurance is "at the heart of the current debate" and "there is not a firm consensus" among any of the players involved on the answer, The Washington Post reports.

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