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Liberals Pan Baucus Health Care Plan

Top House liberals, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), are responding coolly to the health care reform bill released Wednesday by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).Pelosi in a statement faulted the Baucus proposal for falling short of the House version in a number of areas: improving affordability of insurance, fostering competition, improving coverage and lowering the costs of drugs for seniors. And the Speaker noted that it does not include a public insurance option, a do-or-die provision for a number of House Democrats.“As this proposal evolves, we hope to see modifications that result in the Senate bill better reflecting the work of the House to make health care more affordable for all Americans and promote competition that is key to keeping costs lower,— Pelosi said. “I believe the public option is the best way to achieve that goal.—Two New York Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee — Reps. Anthony Weiner and Eliot Engel — piled criticism on the Baucus plan, with Weiner saying it “fails the most miserably— in cutting health care costs. “What we’re saying to the United States Senate and the gang of six is, ‘Thanks but no thanks,’— Weiner said in an afternoon press conference. “Your proposal will not pass muster here.—But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) offered the Baucus bill a warmer welcome. He avoided criticizing the plan in a statement that praised its release as a “positive development in moving us closer to passing a health care reform bill this year.—And Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), a leader of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, hailed the proposal for addressing two priorities of her group. “It is deficit neutral, and it takes real steps to bring down the cost of health care over the long term,— she said in a statement.

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