After much wrangling and delays, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today released his draft of a health care bill. Baucus will hold a press briefing at 12 p.m. ET.
The text of the 223-page America’s Healthy Future Act is available here (pdf). It does not include a government public option as many Democratic leaders had hoped but instead promotes membership-run co-ops to compete with for-profit insurance companies.
The bill is already drawing fire from both sides of the political spectrum. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said he would not support the bill.
Neither would Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-West Virginia), an advocate of a government insurance plan. “The way it is now, there’s no way I can vote for the Senate package,” Rockefeller said.
The plan would require individuals to purchase coverage and would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-exiting conditions.
The $856 billion package aims to extend coverage to more than 30 million uninsured American citizens via an expansion of Medicaid, government subsidies to modest-income individuals and families to help them afford coverage, and new state insurance marketplaces described in the bill as “state-based web portals, or ‘exchanges’ that would direct consumers purchasing plans on the individual market to every health coverage option available in their zip code.”
The bill is scheduled for markup by the Senate Finance Committee on Sept. 22.