Policy-ish

Senate Finance Committee Begins Hashing Out Baucus Bill

The health-care sausage-making goes public today as the Senate Finance Committee meets to mark up the overhaul bill put together by Chairman Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat.

senator max baucus briefs the press on his health bill. i i

Sen. Max Baucus will lead Finance Committee in mark up of his health bill starting today. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Wilson/Getty Images
senator max baucus briefs the press on his health bill.

Sen. Max Baucus will lead Finance Committee in mark up of his health bill starting today.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Republicans Grassley, Enzi and Snow will be there. They and the rest of the 23 members of the committee are expected to make the most of the national speechifying moment with individual opening statements that could take hours.

Expect more theater than policy, the New York Times's Prescriptions blog says, suggesting a few senators to pay some attention to. Topping the list: Arizona's Jon Kyl, the Republican's "muscle man" an West Virginia's John D. Rockefeller IV, the "Democrats' liberal conscience."

Ahead of the session, Baucus was already revising his bill to win votes, the Washington Post reports. The changes would give bigger subsidies to make insurance, mandated under the bill, less costly for folks on the lower end of the income scale.

He's also mulling a reduction in the penalty for middle-class families that don't buy insurance and cutting a tax on people with the most expensive health insurance.

All told, senators on the committee have already proposed more than 500 amendments to the Baucus bill.

After a meeting with Democrats on the committee Monday night, Baucus said, "The main discussion was, 'Okay, how do we make insurance affordable for people? Because we've got to make insurance affordable.' But the next question was, 'How do you pay for it?' " the Post reported.

Who's looking out for the uninsured in the debate? NPR's Peter Overby looks at the latest census data and finds a little more than half of the congressional districts with the highest numbers of uninsured people are represented by Republicans or conservative Democrats.

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