Who Does Senator Baucus Listen To?

Montana Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said that in writing his new healthcare legislation “everything is on the table” except single payer. One wonders if Senator Baucus has been reading his home state newspapers or just listening to the lobbyists for the private insurance industry. (www.Opensecrets.org).

After Baucus ruled single payer “off the table” in his search for an “American” solution to the healthcare crisis, Montana’s newspapers have carried several articles calling for Senator Baucus to put single payer back on the table.

Writing in “The Great Falls Tribune” under the headline “Tell Sen. Baucus Single-payer Should Be On the Table,” Gene Fenderson, who served for twenty-five years as a union trustee of a Taft-Hartley joint healthcare fund, wrote: “I maintain that a single-payer system must be on the table because it can help save our present and future economic well being as a state and nation.” Fenderson criticized the Baucus plan directly saying: “Unfortunately, the Baucus plan simply adds even more layers of confusion to this hodgepodge, which is already driving costs up and up for all Americans. We can do better. We must do better. That is why a single-payer system must be on the table.”

Fenderson concluded: “We need real change in health-care and we need it now. Please join me in urging Sen. Baucus, all of our congressional delegation and President-elect Obama to keep single-payer on the table and a part of the discussion.”


As if to add emphasis to Fenderson’s argument, a second article, this time in the Helena Independent Record, reported on results of meetings held throughout Montana at the urging of President Obama’s healthcare transition team. The meetings were to report to the transition team what ordinary citizens think about healthcare reform.

“The consensus of (our group) was that we did not see a lot of change coming unless we went to a single-payer, universal health system,” said Deborah Hanson of Miles City, who organized a meeting of local citizens at the behest of Obama’s transition team. “That was sort of a general consensus - knowing, of course, that may not happen.”

“The Miles City meeting, held Dec. 21 at Hanson’s home, was one of several in Montana and thousands held across the nation during the last two weeks of December.”


Meanwhile, back in Washington, Senator Baucus was attending a lavish pre-inaugural ball at a posh nightclub where he told Brian Ross of ABC News that “lobbyists just want what’s best for America.” Baucus also had praise for the drug, insurance and other lobbyists who paid for the party, saying: “They really care about our country.”


So the question remains. Who does Senator Baucus listen to?

Call, write or Fax Senator Baucus and tell him single payer should be on the table and should be given a full and fair hearing by the Senate Finance Committee.

Senator Max Baucus 511 Hart Senate Office Bldg. Washington, D.C. 20510

(202) 224-2651(Office) (202) 224-9412 (Fax)