The Gang of Six Soldiers On

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From our colleague Sophia Yan, who has been bird-dogging this on Capitol Hill:

Both Senator Max Baucus of Montana and Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota strode confidently out of Baucus’s office late this afternoon after further negotiations regarding health care among the Finance Committee’s “gang of six.” Though the 45-minute session was “very solid,” says Baucus, the group will meet again tomorrow morning.

“One of the biggest remaining hurdles to reaching a conclusion is Medicaid [policy],” Conrad says. This, along with the issue of insurance “portability,” are on the top of the list.

Baucus hinted that Thursday morning’s talks will aggressively push forward, especially after members “take stock” of what President Obama has to say tonight. While bipartisan reform is the goal, Baucus reiterated his determination to introduce a comprehensive health care reform bill and start a committee markup the week of Sept. 21, with or without GOP support.

“Everybody’s contributing,” Conrad says. The tone of the talks, while urgent, remain “very professional, very careful.”