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Taxing the benefit would bring in less than 10 percent of the cost of $1.5 trillion, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. About 160 million people are covered by employer-provided health care plans.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat and chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has said in the past doesn’t like the idea, either.

“I think [Mr. Baucus] is going to have a tough time doing that,” said James Gelfand, senior manager of health policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, pointing to Mr. Obama and Mr. Rangel’s statements.

“Employee groups and union groups are extremely opposed to that idea.”

Mr. Gelfand said he doesn’t expect such an idea to get into legislation.

Others, including the National Federation of Independent Business, support considering all options.

Minutes after Mr. Baucus opened the roundtable discussion, five protesters supporting universal medical coverage disrupted the hearing with shouts before being thrown out by police.

About 25 nurses wearing red hospital scrubs attached with signs advocating a so called “single-payer” government-run health care system also conducted a silent protest. After a few minutes with their backs turned to the chairman, the demonstrators walked out of the room while several in the audience applauded.

Mr. Baucus said that although he disagreed with the protesters tactics, he sympathized with their frustrations.

“Believe me, we hear you,” he said. “I will meet with anyone who wants to meet.”

The chairman, as well as the Obama administration, have said that replacing the current private health insurance system with a Canadian-style government-run single-payer model is not practical or politically feasible. But both support creating a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

“We’ve got to work with what we’ve got,” Mr. Baucus said. “We cannot go to a single-payer system. … That’s not going to work in this country.”

Eight protesters supporting a single-payer system were arrested last week at a Baucus-led health care roundtable workshop.