Senators offer options to cover the uninsured

Don't know whether they're trying to piggyback on President Obama's big announcement on healthcare or whether they're trying to hide it, but the Senate Finance Committee issued a report Monday outlining the options of the table to expand healthcare coverage to the uninsured.

There's an awful lot in the 63-page document: Ideas for expanding Medicaid, offering tax credits to individuals and small businesses for private coverage and enacting health insurance market reforms, to name a few. But the biggie has got to be the outline of several different ways to create a new public plan people could choose instead of private insurance.

Basically, the Finance Committee -- which is set to mark up a comprehensive healthcare reform bill in about a month -- is looking at creating up a government-run program that looks like Medicare, creating regional plans administered by private insurers or having the public plan run by the states.

Though Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) jointly issued the report, they're on opposite sides about whether to create a public plan option at all. The committee held a public roundtable discussion last week to debate coverage options.

Baucus and Grassley released a similar report last month detailing the committee's set of proposals on reforming the healthcare delivery system. On Tuesday, the panel will convene for the last of three "roundtables," during which they will discuss how to finance the $1 trillion-plus the healthcare bill is expected to cost.

- Jeffrey Young