The Senate Finance Committee has opened a historic hearing on health reform legislation with its leader championing a bill that he says extends coverage to 94% of Americans while lowering healthcare costs over the next two decades.
Finance Committee opens hearing on reform legislation
The gravity of the moment was not lost on its chairman. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who authored the $856 billion bill, cited a litany of problems, including the cost and quality of care within the current system, which has led to an unbalanced and unfair health infrastructure.
“We have a tradition of mixed solutions. We have a tradition of compromise,” he said during his opening statement. “We have a tradition of balance. This is a balanced package.”
But Republicans balked at the legislation, saying it’s too expensive, too rushed and ultimately misguided.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the panel, said that for now, a bipartisan solution has been squashed.
Grassley said that GOP input has been shunned by Senate leaders and the White House. “They put moving forward over moving correctly,” the senator said during his opening statement.
The 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans who make up the committee are expected to go through a number of opening statements before considering myriad amendments. Despite more than 564 filed amendments, Baucus said he expects the negotiations to last throughout the week before a final vote is tallied.
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