From NBC's Ken Strickland
After hearing from a number of his colleagues that his health-care bill might make it difficult for some low- and middle-income families to buy insurance, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is making adjustments to his original bill. However, the fundamental concepts of the bill will remain intact.
Last week, committee members filed several amendments addressing concerns about affordability. "We had a number of amendments filed to reduce the penalty imposed for not purchasing insurance, and to make sure that families at all income ranges can afford the lower cost insurance to be provided through the exchange," said a Democratic aide close to the discussions.
To make up for the loss of money raised in penalties and to put more money towards subsides, Baucus will tap the $28 billion of surplus in the bill, according to the aide. (The Congressional Budget Office said that Baucus bill was not only deficit neutral, but reduced the deficit by $49 billion over 10 years, creating a surplus of sorts.)
Last week, Baucus predicted that these types of changes would be coming. "I expect adjustments in the area of affordability," he said last week after a meeting with committee Democrats. "I don't see major changes," he said. "It's a readjustment. It's a redialing of things that are already in the package."
Finance Committee Democrats will meet with Baucus today at 5:30 pm ET to go over the new modifications. The committee begins voting on those amendments tomorrow.