Commentary: Baucus bill is not perfect but gets the ball rolling

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus' long-awaited health care reform bill is far from ideal. But it appears to be the best vehicle yet for moving the contentious debate forward.

Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill on Thursday joined three other key senators in expressing general support for the Finance Committee chairman’s efforts.

“While we each have outstanding concerns we wish to see addressed, Senator Baucus has taken an important and critical step forward with this legislation, which is budget neutral and reduces future health care costs,” says the statement, also signed by Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, Independent Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and conservative Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Both the Congressional Budget Office and the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the plan drafted by Baucus, a Montana Democrat, will pay for itself.

The CBO’s analysis projects that the plan would actually reduce the federal deficit in the long term. The new bill proposes a Medicaid expansion and more subsidies to help low-income people purchase insurance. But it offsets those expenses with a tax on high-cost insurance plans, savings in the Medicare program and other measures.

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