Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, told Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-MT,Wednesday that he is officially stepping away from the health care negotiating table.
Hatch had been part of a bipartisan group of seven members trying to hash out a health care reform compromise.
"I told Max it would probably be better if I didn't come," Hatch told reporters, recounting his concern for the overall cost of the $1 trillion bill, an employer mandate for coverage whch the senator said will hurt low income individuals, and a possible expansion of Medicaid beyond what many beleagured states, mired in the fiscal mud, will be able to absorb.
"I don't want to mislead anyone, so I figured it was best for me to stand aside," Hatch said.
The senior senator, a member of both the Finance Committe and the other committee in the Senate that has produced a bill, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said he worries that Democratic congressional leaders "really are trying to pass either the House bill or the HELP committee bill," Hatch said.
The senator is vehemently against a government-run health care plan, which is in the products produced by both the House and Senate so far.