Members of the pivotal committee offered 564 proposed amendments to the health reform bill drafted by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). Baucus said he expects the committee to begin considering the amendments Tuesday, though it's unclear how long the negotiating process—known as a “markup”—will take.
Senate aides say that Baucus is changing his healthcare bill to make insurance premiums more affordable after fellow Democrats raised concerns, according to the Associated Press. Baucus is making the modifications ahead of the Tuesday session. He'll go over the changes with fellow committee Democrats Monday evening. Democrats are concerned that the required health insurance under Baucus' bill wouldn't be affordable for low-income people.
The amendments have been divvied up into three categories—those that affect the delivery system, those that affect the expansion of health coverage and others that impact how the bill is paid for.
Some amendments would essentially kill the idea of not-for-profit “co-ops,” which would be developed to help drive down insurance costs. Others would increase Medicaid eligibility, lower the age group for Medicare eligibility, as well as develop an employer mandate much stronger than the one already included in a bill.
Snowe first pitched the idea in June. At the time, she said that a public option could be an effective means of ensuring that insurance companies keep costs low for certain individuals. “I think that this is an important aspect to the whole debate, because there is a measure of uncertainty of whether or not the reforms will achieve affordability and universal coverage,” she said.
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