Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the Senate's longtime leading champion of healthcare reform, on Wednesday issued a statement praising a healthcare proposal by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusOvernight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester MORE (D-Mont.)

Kennedy, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and has been holding high-level meetings to develop a healthcare initiative early next year, said Baucus's plan "is a major contribution to the debate on health reform."

"It provides an important analysis of the urgent need for significant improvements in our health care system, and thoughtful recommendations for reform," Kennedy continued. "I look forward to working with Senator Baucus, our colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle, and the Obama Administration to see that we at last achieve the goal of quality, affordable health care for all Americans.