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05-22-2009, 12:40 AM
Baucus Says He Has 'Very High' Hopes for Health Care (Update2)

By Laura Litvan

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said the Senate probably will approve an overhaul of health care that falls short of President Barack Obama's plan to insure everyone.

The prospects for a bipartisan compromise are “very, very high,” the Montana Democrat told reporters today. “You never attain perfection. I think 94 percent to 96 percent is pretty good.”

Baucus said legislation his panel will draft in mid-June will include new regulations for insurers, cuts in reimbursements to Medicare providers and a “health exchange” giving some of the 46 million uninsured Americans the purchasing power to find affordable coverage. He said the measure will include some form of a “public option” -- the “hot button” issue in the debate -- that would compete with private insurers.

“I do suspect a version will be in there,” Baucus said in remarks at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington.

The House and Senate are slated to consider health-care legislation in the next few months. Obama has made revamping health care a priority of the first year of his presidency, and his budget request for 2010 sets aside $634 billion over 10 years to pay for it.

Falling Short

Baucus said it won't be possible to ensure every American has health coverage, noting there are always some who “slip through the cracks.” He said his legislation won't attempt to extend coverage to undocumented workers because that could doom the bill's prospects.

“That's very politically charged,” he said.

Bloomberg (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=agGCYG2wu6VI&refer=home)