Signaling it's time for action, the Senate's chief negotiator on a healthcare bill told his colleagues he won't wait much longer for a Republican compromise.
Baucus says he's getting impatient on GOP compromise
"I am committed to getting health care reform done—done soon and done right," Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont), said in a statement. He is considering making a formal proposal soon to the small group of Senate negotiators. Baucus held a nearly two-hour teleconference Sept. 4 with the other five negotiators on the committee. The group has been struggling for months to come up with an acceptable bipartisan bill. While he was careful to leave the door open to a long-sought deal, Baucus clearly signaled the time has come for him to move ahead.
President Barack Obama plans to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday to boost healthcare reform, a key element of his ambitious domestic agenda. The president, meanwhile, is trying to placate some unhappy House members who fear he's too eager to compromise with Republicans and conservative Democrats to get a bill. In a call from Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Maryland, Obama spoke to leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and other liberal-leaning House groups.
Caucus leader Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said the lawmakers expressed their commitment to creation of a government-run plan to compete with private health insurers. On Thursday, they sent Obama a letter saying they could not support a health bill that lacked such a public option. Woolsey said Obama listened, asked questions and said discussions should continue. She said a follow-up meeting will occur next week at the White House. Another participant said the president was noncommittal about the government-run plan.
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