Laura Litvan and Nicole Gaouette
May 19, 2009

The Senate Finance Committee provided an early glimpse of ways Congress might pay for the overhaul of health care President Barack Obama wants, outlining a range of options that included new taxes on employer-provided health insurance and levies on sugar-sweetened drinks.

[efoods]In a document released yesterday, committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the panel’s top Republican, said taxing health benefits would address so-called “Cadillac plans” they said promote overuse of health-care services and boost the cost of care. The two senators also proposed scouring Medicare and other aspects of the U.S. health-care system for cost savings.

“Health-care reform must preserve the things Americans like about our health-care system,” Baucus said in a statement. “But it must also begin to slow the rapid increases in health- care costs that take up more and more of the budget for American families and businesses.”

The committee will meet behind closed doors May 20 to discuss the options, with a goal of getting a health-care bill to the Senate floor in July. Obama’s budget request for the 2010 fiscal year sets aside $634 billion over 10 years to pay for health-care changes.

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