Responding to critics on Capitol Hill who called the measure too severe, Sen. Max Baucus said he would revamp his health-overhaul proposal to ease the financial burden for middle-income Americans and pare back a key tax increase.
The Senate Finance Committee chairman was seeking to shore up support ahead of meetings by the panel this week to consider amendments to his bill.
The Congressional Budget Office said the Baucus bill would cost $774 billion over a decade and reduce the federal budget deficit by $49 billion in that period. The Montana Democrat said in an interview that $28 billion -- more than half of the funds now dedicated to deficit reduction -- could be diverted to pay for changes that would help shore up support. He hopes to attract the backing of all committee Democrats and at least one Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.
“This is an exciting time,” Mr. Baucus said. “We as a country are on the verge of making a major positive change in the American health care system. You know these are paradigm shifts, these are game-changers, this is really transformative but in a positive way so people are going to get better health care.” It’s the last point that he tries to stress these days, that he worries people aren’t grasping amid the searing political debate.
It was also reported, the health bill drafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) would fine families up to $3,800 annually if they don't buy health insurance. In an interview with ABC's "This Week" that aired Sunday, President Barack Obama said he rejected the notion that the fee represents a tax increase. "You can't just make up that language and decide that that's called a tax increase," Mr. Obama told host George Stephanopoulos.
In describing the penalty, Sen. Baucus's proposal says: "The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax."