Baucus Unveils HC Plan without GOP Support

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WASHINGTON -- After weeks of Washington waiting, Senate finance chairman Max Baucus announced the last of the various House and Senate proposals to overhaul health care.

"It represents an effort to reach common ground and a real chance for health care reform," he said. "And it is balanced, a common sense bill, and it can pass the Senate."

Baucus finally unveiled the first stage of the Senate's health care plan Wednesday, but it doesn't look like any Republicans are supporting the plan.

Baucus' plan is long-awaited because President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats have depended on it as the last shot to get bipartisan support for overhauling health care.

For months, Baucus has been working closely with three Republican senators to insure their support.

But now, it appears no Republicans are willing to back his health care proposal.

Its essentials:
     - It would cost $856 billion over 10 years.
     - Everyone would have to purchase health care. It'd be a mandate, like car insurance in most states.
     - Federal funding for abortions would be blocked.
     - No illegal aliens would be allowed coverage.
     - The public option is out -- instead Americans would be offered a chance to buy cheaper coverage through co-ops.

Some Republicans say the public option would have killed the plan.

"I urged the president to take the public option off the table," Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, told CBS. "There's no way to pass a plan that includes the public option."

But prominent Democrat senators like influential Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., now say they can't support the Baucus bill, because of things like the public option being dropped.

"If it fails to create a public option to create private insurers, the bill as it stands might as well be called the Insurance Industry Profit Protections and Enhancement Act," Wendell Potter, Center for Media and Democracy, said Wednesday. 

President Obama will go on most of the Sunday news shows to fight for an overhaul, arguing Americans can no longer afford not to have health care reform.

"Family premiums rose more than 130 percent over the last 10 years, three times faster than wages. They now average over $13,000 a year, the highest amount on record," Obama said.

"All the costs of inaction, they are just horrendous, the costs of inaction," Sen. Baucus said after moving his plan out of committee.

With so many senators wobbling, President Obama may be ready to embrace a controversial plan Democrat leaders are contemplating: use a parliamentary maneuver that will allow them to pass health care reform with just 51 votes, not the usual 60 needed.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.