Baucus Hustles Health Industry for Savings

'Shakes down' docs, hospitals, pharma to help trim cost of plan
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2009 9:39 AM CDT
Max Baucus listens to Timothy Geithner on Capitol Hill in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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(Newser) – Max Baucus is “shaking people down” to pay for health care reform, one industry insider tells Politico, pressuring hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and doctors to find savings. “They’re playing hardball, and they’re serious about it,” the insider says. The drug maker trade group PhRMA has agreed to find $80 billion in savings, and the Democratic senator, who heads the Senate Finance Committee, is looking for another $150-220 billion from hospitals.

“Sen. Baucus believes that these industries have a lot to gain by health care reform,” says a Baucus spokesman. “They have 46 million new customers coming their way.” The industry says it’ll save money by better preventing chronic disease and digitizing records, but those assurances aren’t solid enough for the Congressional Budget Office. Industry talks are instead centered on hard dollar savings, like cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates.