SEN. MAX BAUCUS, D-MONT.
CHAIRMAN, SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE
Date of Birth: Dec. 11, 1941.
Education: B.A. and LL.B., Stanford University.
Career Path: Baucus was elected to the Montana House in 1973 and the U.S. House in 1974. He was elected to the Senate four years later.
Role in Health Care Reform, 1993-1994: As a member of the Finance Committee, Baucus initially appeared to favor President Clinton’s bill. But after facing intense pressure back home from the National Federation of Independent Business, he backed off over concerns about an employer mandate that would have required businesses to provide insurance or pay into a fund for the uninsured.
Why He's a Player Now: With Sen. Edward Kennedy, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, seriously ill, Baucus is assuming a leading role in pressing for a major health care overhaul supported by President Barack Obama. His close relationship with Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the finance panel, may help him pick up some Republican support—or at least blunt the opposition. He is considering taxing some health benefits and opposes a single payer option, saying "it just cannot pass."
Quote: "I’ve never spent so much time on any subject since I’ve been in the Senate, about 30 years, as this. I’ve never attempted anything more challenging or difficult; have never attempted anything with such relish and such excitement, too. This is fun stuff because it’s the right thing to do."
"We Americans clearly have to reduce the rate of increase in health care costs in this country. A large focus is on that. We clearly have to make sure this is budget neutral, a large focus on that. We clearly have to change our reimbursement system, align payment much more with quality as opposed to quantity and volume, and so a lot of time figuring how to do that. We clearly need to cover as many Americans as we possibly can. We are not going to get 100-percent coverage but we can try to get as close as we can and we are working hard to accomplish that."
"We are making it very clear, too, this is very important that when we finish, anyone will be able to keep his or her own health insurance. If you like what you have, you can keep it. Nobody is telling you what you have to get or not get, whether you have to drop anything. If you like what you have, you keep it." (Newsmaker Briefing, May 21, 2009)
Read about the other 'Players'.