Mont. Democrat leads Senate health charge

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Boston Globe‘s Lisa Wangsness reports that Montana Democrat and Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus has become a leader in the legislative push for health-care reform.

At a time many see as the best opportunity in 15 years for a comprehensive healthcare overhaul, Baucus, 67, has stepped into an unexpected leadership void. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a leader on the issue for decades, is suffering from brain cancer. Obama’s initial point-person on health reform, Tom Daschle, who boasted both extensive legislative experience and in-depth understanding of the policy, withdrew his nomination for Health and Human Services secretary because of tax problems.

Wangsness reports that, instead of using a weak economy as an excuse to put off reform plans, Baucus has argued that in tough financial times health care costs are a bigger issue than ever. Sen. Baucus has moved quickly to establish health-care street cred, Wangsness said. “Since last June, he has held hearings, hired top policy staff and issued a widely praised 89-page blueprint for reform days after the election.”

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