Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Advocates: Baucus regrets decision to take single-payer off the table

Sen. Max Baucus on Wednesday told a group of single-payer advocates that he regrets not including them in earlier Senate discussions, according to sources who participated in closed-door meeting.

“He did admit that coming out right away and saying single-payer was off the table and not going to be a part of the discussion was a mistake,” said Geri Jenkins, president of the California Nurses Association and one of five single-payer advocates who participated in meeting.

Proponents of single-payer health care—a system in which the federal government provides health insurance for all Americans—have been hounding Baucus, a Democrat, for months after Baucus declared the idea “off the table.”

According to two people who participated in Wednesday’s meeting, Baucus said it’s too late for the Senate Finance Committee, which Baucus chairs, to hold additional health care reform hearings on single-payer.

Baucus’ office would not comment on the specifics of the meeting.

“Senator Baucus met privately with single payer advocates today and discussed their shared goals of providing quality, affordable health care to every American,” Baucus spokesman Ty Matsdorf said in an e-mail statement Wednesday afternoon. “Senator Baucus asked them to work together with him to pursue that goal this year.”

Officials with the group Montanans for Single-Payer said they plan to hold rallies at noon on Friday in front of Baucus’ field offices in Great Falls, Helena, Billings, Butte, Bozeman and Missoula.

Read the full story in tomorrow's Great Falls Tribune.

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