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Finance Committee’s Health Bill on the Horizon

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September 4, 2009

Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., will soon be producing his much-anticipated take on health care reform and how taxpayers will pay for it.

Baucus told the so-called “Gang of Six” lawmakers on his committee who have been tangling over various provisions in the bill that he would be issuing his “chairman’s mark,” or proposal, for the bill, perhaps as early as Saturday, according to an account by The New York Times.

That doesn’t mean the bill is ready yet, of course. Even though three other committees in the House and one in the Senate have passed bills related to the overall legislation before the August congressional recess dawned, the Senate Finance Committee’s version has been the most hotly awaited and longest delayed. Guesses over the likelihood of a public option or a health insurance co-op ending up in the Finance Committee bill have preoccupied the blogosphere and cable news pundits. President Obama is scheduled to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening, which should help clarify his intentions with the legislation as well. One can only hope. The address is being seen as a pivotal one in the battle to get the bill through Congress. With everyone back from a “vacation” filled with raucous town hall meetings, the mood seems to be to either get back to work or prevent that work from ever getting done.'

Meanwhile concerns over the IRS’s role in the whole process of determining who has adequate health coverage and whether they are deserving of subsidies have also been mounting, as Byron York pointed out in a thought-provoking article in the Washington Examiner. It’s still unclear exactly how the IRS is going to take on these difficult tasks, but the agency’s budget requests are going to need to be a whole lot bigger if it has to start acting as the health insurance watchdog in addition to its traditional roles of tax collector and guidance issuer.

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