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Freshman Senators Urge Baucus to Continue Health Talks

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus’ long-running bipartisan talks on health care reform got a small boost Thursday from nine Senate Democratic freshmen.

In a letter to Baucus, the Senators urge the Montana Democrat to continue his efforts to craft a health care bill that can garner Republican support. They also praised the six bipartisan negotiators’ focus on reducing overall health care costs.

“We strongly urge the Senate Finance Committee to continue to remain centered on realigning incentives to stabilize health care costs,— the group wrote. “We stand ready to serve and to help you and the Senate Finance Committee to craft a bill that bends the health care cost curve, provides affordable coverage, and rewards value-added services. Thank you for your consideration of our concerns.—

The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Roland Burris (Ill.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Mark Warner (Va.).

Though some Democrats have criticized Baucus for spending months courting Republican votes that appear elusive, the freshmen said they support the bipartisan effort being pursued by Baucus, ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

“We applaud you and Senator Grassley for your continued work and dedication toward a bipartisan effort,— the letter reads.