Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley expects many of his suggestions to appear in the health care reform bill that’s expected to be introduced by Montana Senator Max Baucus as soon as today. Baucus, a Democrat, chairs the Senate Finance Committee on which Republican Grassley sits.
The bipartisan committee, known as the “Gang of Six”, has reportedly pared the massive bill’s cost down to 880-billion dollars over ten years. Even after months of negotiation, Grassley says he’s unsure exactly what the legislation will contain as talks are still underway.
“You’ve gotta’ remember, we’ve been talking one-on-one since January and three-on-three for the last three months,” Grassley says. “We are still talking. We had two one-hour sessions yesterday and made some progress, made a lot of progress if you look at 100% of what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Grassley would -not- commit to saying he’d support the pending Baucus bill. “There’s still some very serious outstanding differences and we’ll continue to talk,” Grassley says. “You want to remember the environment we’re in is very collaborative, never been a harsh word said by anybody in any of these meetings. If (Baucus) goes ahead with the bill today or tomorrow, I expect that collaborative environment will continue.”
Among the bill’s unresolved issues, there’s ensuring illegal immigrants are excluded, the issue that prompted a well-publicized outburst of “You lie!” from a congressman during last week’s address by President Obama. Several other health care reform bills are already being considered in Congress. Grassley says he would never vote for the bill that was offered up a few months ago by Senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut.
“First of all, it isn’t paid for and it doesn’t bend down the inflation curve of health care,” Grassley says. “The same way with the Pelosi bill, and that’s not Chuck Grassley saying that, it’s the Congressional Budget Office, saying that they increase the deficit and they don’t do anything about health care inflation.” Grassley says the bill he’s been crafting with Baucus is “deficit neutral” and would tackle health care inflation.