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Baucus Says Deficit Projection Demands Action on Health Care

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Tuesday that a bipartisan health care reform bill being negotiated in his committee is even more essential given the $7 trillion to $9 trillion federal budget deficit projected over the next decade.However, it remains unclear whether bipartisan negotiators in the Finance Committee will be able to reach a deal. The six Senators — three Democrats and three Republicans — adjourned for the August recess without an agreement, and the two sides still appear far apart.“Today’s budget reports serve as a clear illustration that health care spending is out of control and threatens the health care programs families rely on, such as Medicare and Medicaid,— Baucus said in a prepared statement released by his office late Tuesday afternoon. “The bipartisan health care legislation we are drafting in the Finance Committee will slow these growing health care costs by improving quality and making our system more efficient.—The White House on Tuesday projected a $9 trillion deficit over the next 10 years. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted the deficit would hit $7 trillion during that period, mainly because it assumed that tax cuts passed during the Bush administration would expire.The bipartisan Finance negotiators are Baucus, ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) and GOP Sens. Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).The group has met once during the recess via teleconference, with no breakthrough.Baucus has given the negotiators a Sept. 15 deadline to reach a bipartisan health care deal, at which time he’ll consider other options for drafting a bill in his committee. Meanwhile, Democratic leaders are already considering various partisan options for pushing ahead absent Republican support.

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