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Baucus health plan: How is it different?

No Republican has signed on yet to the healthcare "compromise" plan released Wednesday by Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus.

Senator Max Baucus (D) of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, discusses the healthcare reform bill during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday.

Hyungwon Kang / Reuters

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There’s a new healthcare bill in town – and its purpose may be to serve as a conservative alternative to existing bills, pulling any final legislation to the right.

The long-awaited proposal from Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D) of Montana has yet to draw support from Republicans, however. In that sense Senator Baucus’s bid to develop bipartisan legislation has fallen short, so far.

Still, some of the main provisions of Baucus’s plan released Wednesday are quite different from the more liberal versions of healthcare reform produced by the Senate Health panel, and by committees in the House.

Baucus himself notes that the horse-trading of the legislative process is just beginning.

“By the time we get to final passage of the bill in this committee, you’ll find we get Republican support,” he predicted at a press conference Wednesday.

Among the notable ways in which the Baucus plan differs from other healthcare bills now progressing in Congress:

It’s cheaper. The Baucus bill would cost an estimated $856 billion over 10 years, as opposed to, say, the $1 trillion the House multi-committee effort might run taxpayers over the same time period. Given the mysteries of the congressional cost-estimation process, this projected figure might yet change. GOP senators may also consider the approximately $200 billion difference to be insufficient.

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