Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., brought an end to months of negotiations aimed at striking a bipartisan deal on the health care overhaul and issued a $774 billion, 10-year plan similar in its basic structure to the three bills approved in House committees but lacking a feature considered central by his party's liberals—a public option to compete with private plans.
Democratic supporters of the public option in the health overhaul bill mounted a vigorous defense in the House, summoning a panel of health experts who said it's essential for cutting costs. The friendly witnesses sharply criticized a Senate proposal to instead establish a system of consumer-run co-operatives, as well as any "trigger" mechanism that would delay the public option.
A group of leading analysts and health policy advisers, many of them veterans of the failed congressional overhaul debates of yore, implored lawmakers at a press briefing not to give up on revamping the system now that the going has gotten tough politically.
Liberal Senate Democrats are trying to soften the effect of the largest revenue-raising provision in the Finance Committee's health care bill.
With Congress poised to spend possibly billions of dollars in coming years on research to help doctors identify the most worthwhile medical treatments for various conditions, how doctors respond to that research is key to the hopes of policy makers that it will "bend the curve" in health spending growth. An analysis released at a meeting of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission made clear that while doctors are receptive to the studies, how they are carried out, written, and distributed will determine how much impact they have.