Senate Finance Committee negotiators continued to inch closer to a broad health reform bill, but said they needed first to lock down language that bars illegal immigrants from some parts of the health system; crafts a way to pay for a Medicaid expansion; and ensures that federal dollars are not used for abortions.
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said they are waiting to hear from the Congressional Budget Office on how to split the costs of a massive Medicaid expansion between federal and state governments. The CBO is expected to weigh in on Monday, clearing the way for a draft bill to come as early as Tuesday, the senator said.
The negotiating team—made up of three Democrats and three Republicans, and led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)—also plans to include provisions that could lead to an overhaul to malpractice lawsuits. Medical malpractice reform, abortion and the issues over illegal immigrants have been sticking points for the committee. Democrats have said all along that certain parts of a reformed healthcare system would be off-limits to illegal immigrants and that federal dollars would not pay for abortion services, but have been forced back to the negotiating table to make sure legislative language is airtight.