A potential leadership change at the Senate Finance Committee next year could provide another stumbling block for legislation to fully repeal Medicare's physician payment system.
As reports surfaced that President Barack Obama plans to nominate Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) as ambassador to China, some wondered how long the Montana Democrat will hold his current post—and what his departure will mean for the fate of congressional negotiations to repeal Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula.
Baucus announced earlier this year that he'll retire at the end of the current Congress. But it remains unclear how soon the White House will make the announcement and when Baucus' Senate confirmation process would begin. At deadline, neither the White House nor Baucus' office had replied to requests for more information. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), next in line to the position based on seniority, currently chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee and will also retire at the end of 2014. A representative for Rockefeller's office had not replied to a request for comment by deadline.