Sen. Max Baucus is “one degree of separation away” from America’s Health Insurance Plans.

David Castagnetti, a partner at Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc., Washington, a lobbying firm that has helped represent AHIP, Washington, once served as chief of staff in the office of Baucus, D-Mont., according to the Mehlman Vogel website.

Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, today released a health reform bill draft that includes some provisions that AHIP has suggested might be acceptable, such as a guaranteed-issue provision combined with a requirement that individuals own health coverage, and excludes some provisions that AHIP has criticized.

The Baucus would use nonprofit but privately controlled “co-operatives,” rather than a government-run “public option” health plan, in an effort to make the health insurance market more competitive.