Howard Dean Blasts Baucus Healthcare Bill

Democrats, he predicts, will end up using reconciliation to pass a bill with the public option.

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By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers

Howard Dean, former Democratic National Committee chairman, minced no words about Sen. Max Baucus's healthcare proposal, unveiled to the public this morning. "The Baucus bill is the worst piece of healthcare legislation I've seen in 30 years," Dean said last night at a healthcare town hall and book signing in Washington. "In fact, it's a $60 billion giveaway to the health insurance industry every year," he said. "It was written by healthcare lobbyists, so that's not a surprise. It's an outrage."

The Baucus bill leaves out some of the president's goals for healthcare reform, such as the controversial public option. While more palatable to Senate moderates, the Baucus proposal also drew criticism from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, who said yesterday he would not vote for it in its current form. "I'm glad Senator Rockefeller is not going to vote for it. I wouldn't vote for it at all under any circumstances," Dean added. Instead, Dean said Senate Democrats should and would end up using the reconciliation process to pass a plan with the public option. "It can be done, and that's how it will be done," Dean said, pointing out that a majority of Senate Democrats still support a more robust bill.