As the nation awaits President Obama’s address to Congress on Wednesday, Senator Max Baucus (DMT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and member of the “Gang of Six” who have been working through the recess to complete a bi-partisan health reform bill for Senate consideration, is promoting a fee that would be levied on health insurers. Under the Baucus proposal, the fee would be assessed to help pay for coverage of the uninsured.

The six-member subcommittee plans to meet Tuesday, September 8, to gather the various pieces of the legislation that they have worked on throughout the recess, and will likely take up the Baucus industry fee concept as well. Baucus’ plan appears to have additional components that might be included as an independent proposal sent to the Finance Committee if the bi-partisan effort falls short in the coming week. These apparently include a determination not to push a “government plan” but to seek to establish co-ops and to lower the overall cost of insurance by subsidizing coverage available through health insurers and broadening the scope of that coverage. Still at issue is whether lowering the cost of insurance will have any impact on the overall cost of health care.