Monday, May 4, 2009
Doug Trapp at AMNews reports on the recent Senate Finance Committee meeting on health reform. He writes,
The Senate Finance Committee, whose leaders appear to have taken the helm in the health system reform debate, started a round of public talks with health organizations in a run-up to an aggressive reform timetable.
National reform legislation in the Senate will likely show the influences of an April 21 roundtable discussion. It focused largely on how a rural health system improved care and lowered costs for chronically ill patients, how patient needs and incentives should drive reform, and whether a federal health agency should have more authority to innovate.
The Senate Finance Committee roundtable on improving care and reducing costs was the first of three on major health reform topics. Two more are scheduled for May. Committee members in the days following each discussion will review and comment on each corresponding piece of the legislation before the final package is unveiled publicly for a formal committee markup and vote, possibly as early as June.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D, Mont.) said it's time to move. "If we don't act now -- that is this year -- the consequences will be dire."
Sen. Charles Grassley (Iowa), the committee's highest-ranking Republican, said tackling health care, which accounts for 16% of the nation's economy, is daunting. "This is the toughest and most needed issue that Sen. Baucus and I have ever been involved in."
The Finance panel and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee began conferring with health care organization leaders about legislation last year. House committee chairs began holding hearings more recently, and Republican groups in the House also are working on their own proposals. House and Senate committee chairs have agreed to try aiming for floor votes on reform legislation before the August congressional recess.