Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), pledged to introduce a sweeping health reform bill next week and said he expects to garner some Republican support.
“The time has come for action, and we will act,” Baucus, who heads the last remaining committee to draft a health reform package, told reporters. The comments were made after a closed-door meeting with Democratic committee members and are the senator's firmest yet on how and when legislation will move. Baucus said that final negotiations, also called “mark-up,” are expected for the week of Sept. 21.
But that process could prove lengthy, with Democrats and Republicans already outlining plans to offer a number of amendments that could ultimately reshape the bill. Yet the negotiation process could also help produce a final bill that might sway some GOP members to vote for the package, Baucus said.
Baucus said he expects the bill to be similar to a proposal he outlined over the weekend, which includes measures that would expand Medicaid, trim Medicare spending and create a health insurance marketplace that includes a co-op model. The proposal does not include a public health plan option, which Baucus said could not pass the Senate.