Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said that a public option health plan is still a possibility under a broad health overhaul package, but only if it could garner the 60 votes needed to advance.
Sixty votes or bust for public option, Baucus says
The comments were made as Baucus, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) have begun deep negotiations to meld the Finance Committee's bill with another one passed earlier this year by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. “This issue is alive and we're looking at it, trying to see what makes the most sense,” Baucus told reporters on a conference call sponsored by the liberal advocacy group Families USA.
Baucus, who quarterbacked the sweeping $829 billion reform package, said that variations on a public option are being studied, including one based on Medicare and another that would let states choose whether or not they want to participate. But, Baucus added, only a bill that can garner what's known as a “super majority”—which can halt a potential filibuster—would ultimately get passed. “The major, overall goal is to get healthcare reform that passes the Senate,” he said.
Baucus also highlighted a number of delivery system reforms that would ultimately lead to lower healthcare costs, including provisions that would begin to pay providers based on the quality of care that they administer rather than quantity.
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