Nine Senators Hold Key to Health Reform

Baucus leads 'Board of Directors' in tough bipartisan negotiations
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2009 10:50 AM CDT
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., are both on the so-called "Board of Directors" focused on health reform.   (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
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(Newser) – If Barack Obama succeeds in overhauling America's health care system by the end of 2009, he'll have to thank a bipartisan group of nine senators charged with developing a bill that can muster 60 votes. The "Board of Directors"—named by Max Baucus, Obama's go-to figure for health reform—has been holding weekly meetings to flesh out a deal, but as Politico reports, it's been slow going.

The five Democrats and four Republicans agree broadly that all Americans must have health care and that $700 billion in inefficiencies need to be cut. But it remains unclear how they'll accomplish either, and the senators are navigating both ideological differences and deeply entrenched special interests. "Let’s face it," said member Orrin Hatch, "it is one of the most complex and difficult sets of issues you can possibly find."