WASHINGTON — The Senate Finance Committee may hold back on discussing efforts to create a new public health insurance program for working-age U.S. residents who are not poor, Sen. Max Baucus said today.
Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, talked about health insurance reform efforts here at a press briefing.
The Senate Finance Committee will release a position paper on health system reform options next week, and it will use the release of the paper to kick off the process of drafting health reform legislation, Baucus said.
Many in the health insurance industry, and especially producers, have come out against the creation of a “public option” for working-age people who are not poor.
About the public option, Baucus said the Senate Finance Committee “will get to this a little later.”
Baucus said he wants to get a “little momentum” behind health reform legislation before the committee tackles such a divisive issue.
“Cool it,” Baucus said. “We don’t have to deal with it now. It’s kind of a hot-button item.”
Health reform efforts faltered in 1994, during the Clinton administration, but “the need for change was not as great in 1993-94 as it is now,” Baucus said.
The “opportunity for reform is now” because “the stars are aligned,” and the concept of health reform now has bipartisan support, Baucus said.
The Senate Finance Committee will develop health reform legislation by dividing the drafting into three separate areas: changes to the health care delivery systems; systems for expanding coverage to all citizens; and financing.