The Baucus legacy: "With momentum building for health care reform and the process in the Finance Committee beginning to take on an air of inevitability, a Baucus victory will likely overshadow many of the missteps that some Democrats feel he made in pursuing a bipartisan bill that has yet to materialize. However, a failure would likely result in many of his Senate colleagues calling for his head. 'He's either the hero or the goat,' said one Democratic source familiar with the process."
"Health care legislation along the lines sought by President Barack Obama is moving methodically if slowly through the Senate Finance Committee, where Republicans are so far unable to force any significant changes and Democrats have yet to try." AP has the rest of what senators want.
Meanwhile, "Republicans hope to reverse that trend [of lost ground after the Joe Wilson incident] thanks to Baucus, who has asked Jonathan Blum, acting director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Center for Drug and Health Plan Choice and a former Baucus Medicaid policy aide, to investigate a mailer by the insurance giant Humana that was critical of Baucus' health care reform bill," Roll Call writes. "Blum sent Humana a letter warning them to stop sending out the critical mailers and said the agency is investigating the company's activities." GOP aides are billing it as a warning about the ills of government and call it big-brother-like tactics."
The Wall Street Journal's editorial page focuses on the Humana issue: "Last week Mr. Baucus ordered Medicare regulators to investigate and likely punish Humana Inc. for trying to educate enrollees in its Advantage plans about precisely this fact. Jonathan Blum, acting director of a regulatory office in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said that a mailer Humana sent its customers was 'misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, who may believe that it represents official communication about the Medicare Advantage program.'" The Journal also wonders why CMS hasn't asked AARP not to publicize its support for health-care reform.
Regarding Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's expected pick today, "The next junior senator from Massachusetts will not get plum committee assignments, primo Capitol Hill office space, or the much-coveted 'hideaway' for private gatherings. The temporary fill-in for the late Edward M. Kennedy should not count on the perks -- or the respect -- that the 'Lion of the Senate' accumulated over nearly five decades in office," the Boston Globe writes.