Baucus: Senate Health-Care Plan Unlikely to Cover
By Lori Montgomery
The Washington Post
Health care legislation being drafted in the Senate
is unlikely to meet the ambitious goal of covering all Americans, and will
specifically exclude undocumented workers from receiving benefits, the chairman
of the Senate Finance Committee said today.
"It's too politically explosive," Sen. Max Baucus
(D-Mont.) said of covering immigrants who are in the country illegally. He
declined to say how that edict would be implemented, saying: "I'm just saying
they're not covered."
Undocumented workers make up a significant portion
of the nation's 46 million uninsured, and excluding them from coverage could
force hospitals to continue to make up the cost of their care.
Baucus' comments are likely to sell well with key
Republicans on his committee. The hot-button issue of medical care for
immigrants almost derailed President Obama's expansion of the State Children's
Health Insurance Program earlier this year. Republican senators such as Charles
Grassley of Iowa and Orrin Hatch, stalwart supporters of the program, voted no
because it was extended to legal immigrants.
Speaking at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family
Foundation in Washington, Baucus said he expects his committee to draft a
comprehensive plan to overhaul the health care system by mid-June and that
chances for a bipartisan compromise are "very, very high." He said the measure
is likely to include a "public option" -- a government-sponsored program opposed
by many Republicans -- that would compete with private insurers.