I mentioned yesterday that Chuck Schumer's public plan compromise wasn't a freelance effort: Max Baucus had deputized him to work through the options on the public plan. But he's not the only Finance Committee member that received some homework from Baucus. In fact, Baucus has given every Democrat on the committee a different piece of health reform to focus in on. Sources say that some are taking them more seriously than others, and obviously no single senators gets the last word. But the assignments have been a way for Baucus to delegate some of the work and involve all the Democrats on the Finance Committee. This is the list:
Jay Rockefeller: Medicaid Expansion, Premium Subsidies, Quality Improvements
Kent Conrad: Comparative Effectiveness, Chronic Care Management
Jeff Bingaman: Pay-for-Performance, Bundled Payments, IHS
John Kerry: Heath Information Technology, Exchange, Small Business Tax Credit
Blanche Lincoln: Small-Group Rating Reforms, Small Business Tax Credit
Ron Wyden: Tax Exclusion, Non-Group Rating Reform
Chuck Schumer: Public Plan
Debbie Stabenow: Employer Pay-or-Play, Medicare Buy-in, HIT
Maria Cantwell: Long-Term Care Reform, Workforce Issues
Bill Nelson: Graduate Medical Education, Medicare Part D
Bob Menendez: Disparities, Individual Requirement
Tom Carper: Fraud and Abuse, Prevention and Wellness, Transparency
There's clearly considerable room for personal initiative on this. Chuck Schumer, for instance, has pushed very hard on his issue and moved very quickly. He may well define the policy around the public plan. On the other hand, if John Kerry were to hypothetically forget to examine health information technology -- and this is a hypothetical, I have no evidence that the guy hasn't personally mastered every aspect of HIT down to and including installation -- it's obviously not the case that health information technology would be left out of the final bill. So at the risk of stepping on my scoop, I wouldn't overstate the importance of these players. But some of them -- in particular Schumer on the public plan, Wyden on the tax exclusion, Conrad on comparative effectiveness, and Rockefeller on Medicaid -- will be very important.
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