Thursday, Nov 1. 2007
8:00 a.m. Eastern Time
Health Affairs Presents Award For Bipartisan Collaboration To Senators Max Baucus And Chuck Grassley
Finance Committee Chair And Ranking Member Honored For Work On SCHIP And Other Issues
Bethesda, MD -- At its twenty-fifth anniversary health policy summit, Health Affairs presented awards for bipartisan health policy collaboration to Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and the panel’s senior Republican, Chuck Grassley (IA).
“Increasingly over the past several years, the legislative process has focused on ideology, rather than problem solving,” said Health Affairs founding editor John Iglehart, who presented the awards. “Health care debates have provided some of the worst examples. Senators Baucus and Grassley, however, have consistently overcome their ideological differences and chosen policy making over political gamesmanship.”
Senators Baucus and Grassley have worked together on health care issues since Senator Grassley became chair of the Finance Committee in 2001. Their good relationship has enabled the panel to continue its work through several changes in party control. After Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont gave Democrats a Senate majority by switching parties later that year, Senator Baucus became chair, then handed the gavel back to Senator Grassley after Republicans returned to the majority in the 2002 election. Senator Baucus became chair again after the Democrats took control of the Senate in the 2006 election.
Baucus and Grassley have collaborated on a number of health care issues. The Medicare Modernization Act, which added a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program, was a notable example. The most prominent recent instance of health policy collaboration between the two Senators has been the reauthorization debate over the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). In contrast to the more partisan atmosphere in the House, the Finance Committee reported a compromise bill that passed the Senate with veto-proof bipartisan support.
“SCHIP was created by another example of bipartisan collaboration, between Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Orin Hatch (R-UT), so it is fitting that Senators Baucus and Grassley reached across party lines to produce reauthorization legislation with such broad support,” said Iglehart. “This is not to say that provisions sought by House Democrats, or those sought by the president and other Republicans, were necessarily wrong on the their merits, but Baucus and Grassley staked out the middle ground necessary to gain significant support in both parties.”
Linda Fishman, who served as Grassley’s chief health aide, said, “When Senators Grassley and Baucus work together, health legislation happens. They have a real knack for finding the sweet spot of what makes for good and reasonable health policy.” Liz Fowler, who served in the same position for Baucus, added that the two Senators “believe they were sent to Washington to get something done for people.”
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Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears bimonthly in print with additional online-only papers published weekly as Health Affairs Web Exclusives at www.healthaffairs.org.
©2007 Project HOPEThe People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.