EMBARGOED UNTIL: 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 26, 2009

It’s a good thing the GOP continues to rotate messengers for their weekly address since the message certainly isn’t changing.  This week, GOP Senator Johnny Isakson continues to float the same debunked GOP lies and mistruths that Republican have repeated for weeks – apparently with new hope that their tired message will resonate with the American public.  It’s clear, however, from a new CBS/NTY poll released on Friday that their strategy is a complete and utter failure with 76% of the public and a shocking 73% of Republicans saying the GOP has failed to clearly explain their health insurance reform plans.

See below for a fact check on this week’s GOP address:

RHETORIC: “They get anxious when they hear Democrats want to cut hundreds of billions from Medicare because they know you can’t cut costs without cutting benefits for our seniors.”

REALITY: CUTTING WASTE AND FRAUD WON’T CUT BENEFITS FOR SENIORS

AARP Said The Proposed Medicare Changes Would Have “Little Impact” On Medicare Beneficiaries. “AARP, the seniors’ advocacy group, argues that the proposed changes would have little impact on Medicare beneficiaries because they represent such a small portion of total Medicare spending, and says insurance providers have agreed to accept the reductions as part of reforms that would deliver millions of new customers. The cuts ‘are about a 3 percent reduction overall in what Medicare is expected to spend over the 10-year budget window. So the question is: Can we find 3 to 5 percent in efficiencies in the Medicare program?’ said David Sloane, a senior vice president at AARP.” [Washington Post, 9/23/09]

REALITY: ISAKSON AND HIS FELLOW REPUBLICAN SENATORS SUPPORTED BAUCUS BILL MEDICARE ADVANTAGE REFORMS TO REDUCE SUBSIDIES TO INSURANCE COMPANIES

Senate Republicans Introduced Patients Choice Act that Included Similar Provisions to the Finance Committee Bill to Introduce Competitive Bidding into Medicare Advantage to Eliminate Inefficiencies; Reps. Paul Ryan And Devin Nunes Introduced Companion Bill In House. Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would include competitive bidding in Medicare Advantage to eliminate inefficiencies and increasing choice. The bill was sponsored by Senator Coburn, and co-sponsored by Senators Alexander, Bunning, Burr, Chambliss, Graham, Inhofe and Isakson. The House version sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan was co-sponsored by Reps. Ken Calvert, John Campbell, Steven LaTourette, John Linder, Kenny Marchant, Tom McClintock, Devin Nunes, Pete Sessions, John Shimkus and Mark Souder. [S. 1099, Introduced 5/20/09, Title V, Subtitle A.; HR 2520, introduced 5/20/09, Section 1860C-2]

Sen. Crapo Said “I’m Not Against Competitive Bidding, I Like Competition.” Sen. Crapo: “I want to make it very clear, I’m not against competitive bidding, I like competition.” [Senate Finance Committee Hearing, 9/24/09]

Ø       The Baucus Bill Would Reduce The Difference In Costs Between Medicare And Medicare Advantage Through A Competitive Bidding System. “Federal subsidies to private Medicare plans average about 14 percent higher than those involved in fee-for-service coverage. The health care bills pending in Congress would reduce or eliminate the difference in part by introducing a competitive bidding system to pay the plans. ‘Health insurance reform will strengthen Medicare for seniors, not diminish it,’ said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin. ‘Even under the competitive bidding proposal in the legislation, Medicare Advantage plans will still be paid more than traditional Medicare plans. Yes, they’ll need to compete, and they’ll need to be more efficient, but they’ll still have more money to work with than traditional Medicare.’” [AP, 9/22/09]

Ø      AARP Lead Lobbyist On Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding: “We Think The Proposals Actually Will Improve Access And Quality,” Not Cut Benefits. The Boston Globe reported that, “[t]he $120 billion cut to Medicare Advantage is part of spending reductions in Medicare totaling $460 billion to $540 billion over 10 years that have been proposed by Democrats. The cuts would fall on the government reimbursement rates for a broad variety of providers such as hospitals and home health agencies, which could probably absorb them without affecting the services elderly Americans receive, many specialists said in interviews. Though some industry groups complain the spending reductions are too severe, adjustments could be made if problems arose because they would be phased in gradually. Most are aimed at making the programs more efficient. ‘We think the proposals actually will improve access and quality,’ John Rother, a leading lobbyist for the AARP, the large lobbying organization for senior citizens, said in an e-mail.” [Boston Globe, 9/24/09]

RHETORIC: “They get anxious when they hear public option, trigger, or co-op, because they know those are just different labels that can lead to the same thing — government control of our health care system. They know government-run health care doesn’t work in Canada or in England, and it won’t work in America, either.”

REALITY: HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WILL NOT LEAD TO RATIONING OR TAKEOVER OF HEALTH CARE BY THE GOVERNMENT

Sen. Baucus: America “Is Not Ready For Single Pay…We Are Not Europe. We Are Not Canada.” Baucus: “I think single pay – America is not ready for single pay. I mean, America, we are a bit different than people in other countries. We are not Europe. We are not Canada. We are America. It is ‘go west, young man.’ It is entrepreneurism[sic]. It is creativity. It is innovation and so forth. And I think we have come up with a uniquely American solution which is a combination of public and private because we are America. I think that we would be spending capital inefficiently by trying to pursue a single pay system when we have another pathway to meet the health care reform available to us.” [Health Care Reform newsmaker briefing, 3/3/09]

FactCheck.org: Under Obama’s Health Care Plan, “Nobody Would Be Forced To Drop His Or Her Current Insurance.” “Obama has long said he would allow individuals or small businesses to buy insurance through a public plan – like the one now available to members of Congress. But nobody would be forced to drop his or her current insurance, and private plans would exist as they do now. This was the health care plan he promoted as a presidential candidate.” [FactCheck.org, 5/1/09]

AMA President-Elect Reassured: Physicians And Patients Don’t Need To Fear The Rise Of A Monolithic Health System With No Choice From President Obama. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that “American Medical Association president-elect Dr. James Rohack told Mississippi doctors Friday…Physicians and patients don’t need to fear the rise of a monolithic health system with no choice, because it’s not something the American people would accept, Rohack said. The president didn’t advocate a single-payer system for the United States at the meeting, Rohack said. Obama said he believes in access to health care for all with a system that is a mix of public and private sources with patients still able to see the physicians of their choice.” [Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/30/09]

Politifact: The Claim That Health Care Reform Will Lead To Callous Decisions That Would Allow People To Die If They Face A Costly Treatment Is “False.” “In the ad, a man weeps over someone lying in a hospital bed while the announcer says, ‘$22,750. In England, government health officials decided that’s how much six months of life is worth. Under their socialized system if a medical treatment costs more, you’re out of luck. That’s wrong for America.’ That footage is interspersed with shots of the Capitol building and the whole thing is set to some very ominous music. You can watch it here. The carefully worded ad doesn’t directly say that the government is planning to put a price on our lives, but the implication is clear: The reform plan will lead to callous decisions that would allow people to die if they face a costly treatment. So that’s what we’re going to check — whether the reform plan would impose those kind of caps on treatment. … So, back to the Club for Growth ad. Although our experts agree that it gets the NICE statistic correct about the British practice, the ad’s main point about cost limits is incorrect. There is no such practice in the comparative effectiveness program, nor is it part of the current health reform proposals pending in Congress. The House and Senate bills under consideration would not require the government to decide how much a person’s life is worth. As a result, we give the Club for Growth a False.” [Politifact]

RHETORIC: “The Senate Finance Committee took up yet another health care bill that looks an awful lot like the Democrats’ earlier proposals. It would still result in a major expansion of government into our health care, and the cost will be $1 trillion, $700 billion over 10 years when the bill is fully implemented. It would still cut Medicare benefits for our seniors.”

REALITY: BAUCUS SENATE FINANCE BILL IS FULLY PAID FOR, DOESN’T CUT MEDICARE BENEFITS

Sen. Snowe Convinced That Baucus Bill Reflects, “Our Position And Views That It Should Be Budget Neutral…[Will Bend The Cost Curve] In The First 10 Years.” In an interview with Sen. Olympia Snowe, John Harwood asked: “MR. HARWOOD: Are you satisfied that the cost control, cost containment in the bill is adequate? SEN. SNOWE: I do. And you know, we were adamant in our, you know, our positions and views that it should be budget neutral and, if anything, should bend the cost curve and bend the overall cost of, you know, the escalation, you know, of inflation within health care. And it does begin that trend in the first 10 years.” [CNBC, 9/17/09]

The Baucus Bill, Which Is Deficit Neutral, Would Cost $774 Over 10 Years And Changes So Far Have Only Added Another $28 Billion. “The CBO estimated that the original draft proposal from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., would cost $774 billion over 10 years, and Baucus estimates that changes to it so far have added another $28 billion.” According to the CBO, the Baucus bill would be deficit neutral. [McClatchy, 9/24/09; CBO estimate of Chairman’s Mark, 9/16/09]

AARP Lead Lobbyist On Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding: “We Think The Proposals Actually Will Improve Access And Quality,” Not Cut Benefits. The Boston Globe reported that, “[t]he $120 billion cut to Medicare Advantage is part of spending reductions in Medicare totaling $460 billion to $540 billion over 10 years that have been proposed by Democrats. The cuts would fall on the government reimbursement rates for a broad variety of providers such as hospitals and home health agencies, which could probably absorb them without affecting the services elderly Americans receive, many specialists said in interviews. Though some industry groups complain the spending reductions are too severe, adjustments could be made if problems arose because they would be phased in gradually. Most are aimed at making the programs more efficient. ‘We think the proposals actually will improve access and quality,’ John Rother, a leading lobbyist for the AARP, the large lobbying organization for senior citizens, said in an e-mail.” [Boston Globe, 9/24/09]

GOP Opposition To Medicare Advantage Competitive Bidding Is Interesting: “Republicans Have Mounted A Ferocious Defense Of The Market’s Right To Continue Burning Through Taxpayer Dollars.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein commented on Republican anger at the prospect of competitive bidding to lower overpayments to Medicare Advantage programs: “[i]t is also an interesting moment of insight into the conservative philosophy on these matters. The problem with government programs, we’re often told, is that they are expensive and wasteful, and the private market could do better. But faced with an instance where the government program proved relatively lean and efficient, and the private market expensive and wasteful, Republicans have mounted a ferocious defense of the market’s right to continue burning through taxpayer dollars.” [Washington Post – Ezra Klein, 9/24/09]

AARP: Baucus Proposal Ensures Medicare Patients Receive “The Highest Quality Of Care,” Medicare Advantage Subsidy Cut Would Save “Taxpayers Billions In Waste.” AARP released its comments on the Senate Finance Committee Health Reform Legislation, noting that “AARP is pleased that the bill focuses on keeping people healthy by eliminating out-of-pocket spending for important screenings and preventive services in Medicare, and by covering annual wellness visits for Medicare beneficiaries and their doctors to focus on prevention. Under the legislation, doctors would be rewarded for providing quality care instead of for the number of tests ordered—a critical step in ensuring patients receive the highest quality care. The bill also includes incentives to improve quality of care by providing bonuses to Medicare Advantage plans while reducing subsidies to MA plans, saving taxpayers billions in waste.” [AARP Press Release, 9/16/09]

REALITY: THE UNINSURED COST EACH AMERICAN $1,000 EVERY YEAR

Study: Insured Pay “Hidden Tax” Of Extra $1,017 In Health Care Premiums Each Year To Compensate For The Uninsured. USA Today reported on a study that found that, “[t]he average U.S. family and their employers paid an extra $1,017 in health care premiums last year to compensate for the uninsured…Families USA, which supports expanded health care coverage, found that about 37% of health care costs for people without insurance — or a total of $42.7 billion — went unpaid last year. That cost eventually was shifted to the insured through higher premiums, according to the group. ‘I don’t think anybody has any idea about how much they are paying because of the need to cover the health care costs of the uninsured,’ said Ron Pollack, the group’s executive director. ‘This is a hidden tax on all insurance premiums, whether it is paid by business for their work or by families when they purchase their own coverage.’” [USA Today, 5/29/09]

RHETORIC: “It would still expand Medicaid dramatically, forcing my state and states across the country to pay billions for their share of the expansion.”

REALITY: BAUCUS BILL WON’T BURDEN STATES WITH UNREASONABLE MEDICAID COSTS

Baucus Mark: “The Federal Government Would Pay A Greater Share Of The Costs For Individuals ‘Newly Eligible’ For Medicaid Based On The Proposed Eligibility Changes.” Sen. Baucus’ proposed health reform mark explained that when it came to states’ burden of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees, “[u]nder the Chairman’s Mark, states would continue to receive Federal financial assistance as determined by the [Federal Medical Assistance Percentage]. Beginning in 2014, additional Federal financial assistance would be provided to all states to defray the costs of covering newly-eligible beneficiaries. The federal government would pay a greater share of the costs for individuals ‘newly eligible’ for Medicaid based on the proposed eligibility changes.” [Chairman’s Mark, 9/16/09]

Ø       Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour Said He Was “Encouraged” By The Senate Finance’s Health Care Bill That Would Increased Medicaid Funding For States. “States may receive more money from the U.S. government for the Medicaid program for the poor under the Senate Finance Committee chairman’s healthcare reform proposal released on [September 16, 2009]. The $856 billion legislation, which may form the basis of compromise in the U.S. Congress on giving all Americans health coverage, would ‘increase federal Medicaid funding for states that cover recommended preventive services and immunizations at no extra cost,’ according to a summary from Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana …While a key Republican governor, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, was encouraged by the call, he said he was still worried about other provisions in the committee’s proposal. ‘It is clear the Senators are trying to reduce or eliminate the unfunded mandate, and I appreciate their effort,’ said Barbour, who chairs the Republican Governors Association, in a statement. ‘Nevertheless, Mississippi’s small businesses and our Medicare beneficiaries have too much at risk.’” [Reuters, ]

“Senate Staff Members Say The Governors Are Being Heard, And That Measures To Cut Other Health Care Costs In The Legislation Will Eventually Alleviate Their Concerns” On Added Medicaid Burden. The New York Times reported on nervousness from state governors based on concerns that some of the costs of Medicaid expansion would be shouldered by beleaguered states: “Senate staff members say the governors are being heard, and that measures to cut other health care costs in the legislation will eventually alleviate their concerns.” [New York Times, 8/7/09]

Sen. Baucus On State Burden Of Medicaid Expansion: We Will “Ensure Health Care Is More Affordable For…State Budgets.” The New York Times reported that, “‘[w]e are in close contact with a number of governors and will continue working with them to ensure health care is more affordable for families, businesses — and state budgets,’ Mr. Baucus said in a statement.” [New York Times, 8/7/09]

RHETORIC: “And it would still impose taxes on virtually every American and small business.”

REALITY: SMALL BUSINESSES WANTS HEALTH CARE REFORM

The Business Community And Chamber Of Commerce Are Backing Health Care Reform Even As Republicans Are Digging In To Oppose It. “But the health-care debate, in particular, casts a spotlight on the split in the longstanding alliance between economic conservatives and the business community. Republican lawmakers are digging in to oppose the overhaul effort as a big-spending government intrusion. Many companies, on the other hand, cite soaring costs to explain why they continue to back the congressional work under way to revamp the health-care system. … The Chamber [of Commerce] applauded much of the Baucus bill as the first proposal ‘that will actually…get health-care costs under control.’ ‘The reality with the business community is that we want reform, while some Republicans want to stop this train and start over,’ said Bruce Josten, the chamber’s chief lobbyist. ‘That is just not going to happen.’” [Wall Street Journal,

Medical Bills Cause 60 Percent Of Bankruptcies – More Than 75 Percent Of Bankrupt Families Had Health Insurance. Reuters reported that, “[m]edical bills are involved in more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, an increase of 50 percent in just six years, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday. More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts.” [Reuters, 6/4/09]

Founder And CEO Of Small Business: “The Notion That Health Care Reform Is Bad For Small Businesses Is Little More Than A Purposefully Misleading Bag Of Rhetoric That Has Nothing To Do With The Real Issues Facing Small Businesses.” Jonathan Weber, the “founder, publisher, and CEO of New West,” a media company, wrote about his perspective about the need for health insurance reform for small businesses: “The National Federation of Independent Businesses says small businesses should oppose the legislation because it ‘fails to lower’ health care costs, ignoring the fact that there are a lot of issues here besides cost (see above)… the notion that health care reform is bad for small businesses is little more than a purposefully misleading bag of rhetoric that has nothing to do with the real issues facing small businesses. I desperately hope that most business owners see through it and communicate with their elected representatives accordingly.” [The Big Money, 7/27/09]

From 1999 To 2008, Premiums For Small Business Increased 113 Percent. Kaiser Family Foundation’s Employee Health Benefits Report for 2008 noted that health insurance premiums for covered workers with family coverage, among firms with 3-199 workers, rose from $5,683 in 1999 to $12,091 in 2008, an increase of 112.7 percent. [Employee Health Benefits Survey, 9/24/08]

National Small Business Association: “Health-Care Reform Can Not Wait Yet Another Year.” “Health-care reform topped the list of small-business priorities when members of the National Small Business Association voted recently on issues they want Congress and President Barack Obama to address. The group said it supports ‘broad health-care reform’ that will reduce costs, improve quality, create a fair sharing of health-care costs, and focus on individuals’ responsibilities as health-care consumers. ‘Given the current state of the U.S. economy, the fact that our members voted health-care reform their number one priority ought to send a strong message to Congress,’ NSBA President Todd McCracken said in a written statement. ‘Health-care reform can not wait yet another year.’” [Orlando Sentinel, 3/9/09]

Study: Healthcare Reform Has Potential To Save Small Businesses As Much As $855 Billion – No Reform Means Small Businesses Will Pay Nearly $2.4 Trillion In Healthcare Costs, Cost 178,000 Jobs. The Small Business Majority study commissioned a study from noted economist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jonathan Gruber. The study found that, “without reform, small businesses will pay nearly $2.4 trillion dollars over the next ten years in healthcare costs for their workers. With reform, the study shows that small businesses can save as much as $855 billion, a reduction of 36 percent, money that can be reinvested to grow the economy.” The study also found that without reform, 178,000 small business jobs will be lost in 2018 as a result of healthcare costs, and with reform, up to 128,000 of those jobs could be saved. [The Economic Impact of Healthcare Reform on Small Business, 6/11/09]

RHETORIC: “If you have insurance, you get taxed. If you don’t have insurance, you get taxed.”

REALITY: REFORM WILL NOT INCREASE TAXES ON THE INSURED AND UNINSURED

Politifact On Individual Mandate Penalties And Income Caps On Premiums: “They Are Not A Tax…It’s To Pay For Coverage They Don’t Have Now – Not A Tax – And Some People Would Pay Less.” Politifact discussed Keith Olbermann’s assertion that the penalties stemming from an individual mandate in health reform legislation and income camps on premiums under Sen. Baucus’ proposal were a “tax,” and how such an assertion was incorrect: “Olbermann twice called these payments a tax. They are not a tax. They are a cap on premiums paid for health insurance. Other Democratic health reform plans in Congress have similar requirements that “force” people to buy insurance or pay a penalty. Their caps on premiums are more generous than 13 percent, but they still require people to pay a percentage of their income for insurance… He’s right that for people who are uninsured now, the upper limit would be 13 percent, and that money would go to insurance companies. But it’s to pay for coverage they don’t have now — not a tax — and some people would pay less. And all of the plans under consideration in Congress require people to pay something for coverage.” [Politifact, 9/17/09]

RHETORIC: “If you’re an employer who cannot afford to provide health insurance to your employees, you get taxed.”

REALITY: FINANCE COMMITTEE BILL DOESN’T HAVE EMPLOYER MANDATE

“If Sen. Max Baucus’ Bill – With Its Smaller Price Tax, No Employer Mandate, And No Public Option – Doesn’t Draw At Least A Few Republicans, What Will?” ABC News’ Rick Klein asked rhetorically, “[i]f Sen. Max Baucus’ bill — with its smaller price tag, no employer mandate, and no public option — doesn’t draw at least a few Republicans, what will?” [ABC News, 9/17/09]

Wal-Mart Supported Employer Mandate: “Not Every Business Can Make The Same Contributions, But Everyone Must Make Some Contribution.” The Washington Post reported that, “Wal-Mart, the world’s largest private employer, announced in a letter to President Obama today that it will support a requirement that all businesses provide health insurance coverage as part of sweeping health reform legislation. The endorsement of the so-called employer mandate represents a dramatic reversal for the retailing giant and a boost for the White House as it tries to inject momentum into its top domestic priority. ‘We are for shared responsibility,’ Wal-Mart President and CEO Mike Duke wrote. ‘Not every business can make the same contributions, but everyone must make some contribution.’” [Washington Post, 6/30/09]

RHETORIC: “Republicans believe the key to reforming health care is strengthening the doctor-patient relationship by using choice and competition – rather than rationing and restrictions – to contain costs and ensure access to affordable health care. Republicans also favor proposals that emphasize wellness and disease management, as well as proposals that allow portability and don’t reject people based on pre-existing conditions. And Republicans want common-sense medical liability reform to eliminate frivolous lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. This latest proposal from the Democrats calls for only a non-binding ‘Sense of the Senate’ on medical liability. This is lip service that will do nothing to lower health care costs.”

REALITY: BAUCUS BILL CONTAINS MANY REPUBLICAN IDEAS BUT REPUBLICANS WON’T SUPPORT IT BECAUSE THEY’D RATHER PLAY POLITICS

Republicans Still Opposed Baucus Plan, “Even Though Some Elements Of Their Ideas Are Embedded In The Plan;” Policy Expert: “You Can See The Negotiation Process Here, A Bipartisan Process In This Bill.” Kaiser Health News reported that, “Republicans denounced the Democrats’ latest health care proposal—even though some elements of their ideas are embedded in the plan. The Senate Finance Committee bill unveiled Wednesday by chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., contains several provisions that were inspired by Republicans, including testing new ways to handle medical malpractice cases, creating avenues for consumers to cross state lines to buy insurance and immediately launching a high-risk pool that would cover people with pre-existing medical conditions… ‘This isn’t everything Republicans wanted, but it isn’t everything Democrats wanted either,’ said Elizabeth Carpenter, associate policy director at the centrist New America Foundation in Washington. ‘You can see the negotiation process here, a bipartisan process in this bill.’” [Kaiser Health News, 9/16/09]

Sens. Kyl & DeMint Wanted Americans To Buy Insurance Across State Lines. The National Journal reported that, “‘[y]ou have states with these expensive mandates, and you have people that only want to buy a Yugo,’ said Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., recalling the inexpensive Yugoslavian-made hatchback…Shadegg has been pitching the idea of allowing Americans to buy out-of-state insurance policies since 2005, but he’s recently won over Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., the de facto quarterback of the Republican counterattack on health care. Both lawmakers have introduced bills that would open up interstate purchasing.” [National Journal, 8/25/09]

Ø       Baucus Proposed Measure To “Allow For The Purchase Of Individual Health Insurance Across State Lines.” Sen. Baucus’ chairman’s mark proposed that, “[s]tarting in 2015, states may form ‘health care choice compacts’ to allow for the purchase of individual health insurance across state lines…. Once compacts have been agreed to, insurers would be allowed to sell policies in any state participating in the compact.” [Chairman’s Mark, Page 12]

Sen. McConnell Said A Public Plan Was A “Non-Starter” For Republicans Considering Health Reform, Sen. Snowe “Urged The President To Take The Public Option Off The Table.” On Face The Nation, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Barack Obama’s plan to include government-backed health insurance for the public is a ‘non-starter’ for most Republicans considering health care reform. Appearing on CBS’ Face The Nation Sunday, McConnell told host Bob Schieffer that Mr. Obama’s plan for a government health insurance plan would essentially crowd out other insurers from the private market, eliminating competition. ‘We can make incredible improvements in American health care, but I don’t think having more government — in effect putting Washington between you and your doctor — is the way to go.’” Sen. Olympia Snowe said on CBS Face The Nation: “I urged the President to take the public option off the table because it’s universally opposed by all Republicans in the Senate…it is a roadblock to building the kind of consensus that we need to move forward.”  [CBS News, 6/14/09; CBS Face The Nation, 9/13/2009]

Ø       Baucus Proposal Doesn’t Contain Public Option. ABC News’ Rick Klein asked rhetorically, “[i]f Sen. Max Baucus’ bill — with its smaller price tag, no employer mandate, and no public option — doesn’t draw at least a few Republicans, what will?” [ABC News, 9/17/09]

Sen. Grassley: Most Republicans Oppose Employer Mandate. Bloomberg News reported that, “[b]y dropping the employer mandate, Senate Democrats would raise their chances of having bipartisan legislation. Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the finance committee, says most Republicans oppose that mandate.” [Bloomberg, 6/24/09]

Ø       Baucus Proposal Doesn’t Contain Employer Mandate. ABC News’ Rick Klein asked rhetorically, “[i]f Sen. Max Baucus’ bill — with its smaller price tag, no employer mandate, and no public option — doesn’t draw at least a few Republicans, what will?” [ABC News, 9/17/09]

Sen. DeMint Proposed High Risk Pools: “Grants To States…That Ensure Affordable Health Insurance Coverage For Americans With Pre-Existing Health Conditions.” Sen. Jim DeMint proposed in his health reform outline to include a measure that, “[p]rovides block grants to states to develop innovative models that ensure affordable health insurance coverage for Americans with pre-existing health conditions.” [DeMint Freedom Plan]

Ø       Baucus Proposal: High Risk Pools Until Exchange Is Established. Sen. Baucus’ chairman’s mark proposed that, “[w]ithin a year of enactment, any uninsured individual who has been denied health care coverage due to a pre-existing condition can enroll in a high-risk pool” until the Health Insurance Exchange is established. [Chairman’s Mark, Page 2]