Senate gets early start on health reform plan

Sens. Baucus and Kennedy are working with a bipartisan group on the goal of moving a consensus bill through the Senate next year.

Washington — Even before Congress had closed the book on its 2008 session, leaders in the Senate began laying the groundwork for comprehensive health system reform in 2009.

Sen. Max Baucus (D, Mont.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, on Nov. 12 released an 89-page vision for health system reform. The proposal calls for revising Medicare’s physician payment formula, requiring everyone to have insurance and expanding eligibility for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Baucus’ “Call To Action: Health Reform 2009″ is the culmination of months of committee hearings.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D, Mass.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is staking his own place in the debate. He announced Nov. 18 that three committee members would lead working groups on health reform to tackle the issues of prevention and public health, quality improvement and insurance coverage.

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