Baucus Sweetens Subsidies as Bill Goes to Mark-Up

Democrats, Republican Snowe wanted lower costs for health insurance
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2009 8:22 AM CDT
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. speaks to reporters during a news conference on health care legislation, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – The Senate Finance Committee finally meets today to consider Max Baucus' health care reform bill—a bill Baucus has already reworked to counter complaints that it puts too much burden on the middle class. Baucus has upped subsidies to those too strapped to buy insurance, and says he may also lower penalties for those who don't. He's also backing off his proposed tax on high-cost policies, as they hit those with risky jobs, like firefighters and cops.

Those moves, aimed at appeasing Olympia Snowe, the only GOP senator still negotiating, as well as irate Democrats, would add billions to the price tag of a bill once praised for its modest cost, the Washington Post notes. As backroom horsetrading continues, the revised Baucus bill will spend the next few days in what's called a "mark-up" session, more consequential than most, Karen Tumulty notes in Time, because it will be seen as a test of "whether this legislation has any chance of ever reaching the president's desk."