Daily Archives: March 12, 2010

Health Care Reform Nears Final Passage by Gregory Hilton

Next week Democrats will try to seize control of health care in America on a strict party-line vote. The bill being advocated by Democrats will cause premiums to rise, higher taxes and Medicare cuts. Passage would help GOP election prospects, but Republicans are still willing to compromise. The goal is to cut costs, and the GOP wants reform. They are suggesting purchasing insurance across state lines, malpractice reform, incrementally increasing coverage, initiatives to hold down costs, covering preexisting conditions and ensuring portability.
The current issue of “U.S. News and World Report” quotes a senior GOP leadership aide as saying “”Democrats push this at their own peril. They’ll be telling 73 percent of the American people who either want us to stop altogether or stop and start over that they don’t give a damn what the public wants. If they jam this through on a partisan vote with reconciliation in the mix, a campaign will be launched to define every Democrat on this vote.
“We’ll make repealing the bill the battle cry, and many, many Democrats will lose their seats in the fall. It will be a colossal disaster for them. Their base doesn’t love this bill. The conservatives/tea-party folks hate it. And the independents strongly dislike it. Any Democratic consultant telling them passing it is better than not passing it should be fired.”
Today’s “The Hill” newspaper says “Hardly any Democrat running for Congress seems to want to talk about health care. Of the 26 leading Democratic House candidates contacted by The Hill, only one would commit to voting for the Senate health care bill if and when it comes to the House floor.
“Out of the more than two dozen Democratic challengers and open-seat House candidates, only 10 commented for this story. Eight outright declined to comment. Eight more didn’t respond to several days’ worth of requests via phone and e-mail.”
The health care crisis is real and of course it can not be ignored. No one is saying it should be. There are major sections in the Obama bill the GOP is willing to accept, but unfortunately many lawmakers believe it is necessary to start over. They want to first get rid of the gimmicks.
Peter Suderman at Reason.com explains this in his article, “The White House Kindly Requests You Do Not Refer to Its Health Care Budget Gimmicks as ‘Gimmicks’,” which states “When early drafts of health care reform rang up at around $1.6 trillion, Washington underwent a massive freakout; it became clear that passing a bill that kind of price tag was almost certainly impossible.
“So Obama gave Congress a target of ‘around $900 billion’ for the bill, and one of the ways the lower figure was achieved was by starting the taxes revenue mechanisms immediately but holding off on implementing the benefits. That allowed for the Senate bill’s politically convenient $850 billion score while disguising the fact that true cost of a full ten years of the bill’s programs is actually more like $1.8 trillion (and that’s not counting the trillion-plus in additional costs imposed by an individual mandate).”
The Democrats can save themselves if they are willing to compromise with the GOP and come up with bipartisan solutions. The Associated Press released a poll this week showing that 68% of Americans believe the President and Congressional Democrats shouldn’t pass their health care plan without Republican support.
Some critics are asking why the GOP did not act on health care when it had control of Congress and the White House. This narrow control of Congress lasted for four years and four months. Sen. Jim Jeffords (VT) left the GOP in May of 2001, which returned control to the Democrats. Democrats were able to recapture the Congress in 2006 by offering no alternative to social security reform and the expansion of other major entitlements. The party of no strategy was successful for them. They just ridiculed reform efforts and had no interest in bipartisan solutions.
On health care, a super majority was required and the GOP strategy then was the same as it is today. They wanted to accomplish reform on a step by step basis, starting with things the two parties agree on, instead of trying to do everything at once, which our nation can not afford. Similar to social security reform, the Democrats would not cooperate. They stopped all attempts to move forward by insisting on the individual mandate. They could not accomplish that when they controlled the White House and had super majorities in the House and Senate.
Republicans repeated their message at the recent Blair House Health Care Summit. They said lets start with efforts to control costs, tort reform, interstate competition, health savings accounts, high-risk pools, etc. The first priority should be containing costs, which will make insurance more affordable.
The President told the GOP he has an open mind on issues such as medical liability, interstate purchase of insurance, and additional cost cutting initiatives, but they are not included in the Democratic bill.
There GOP recommendation is to widen coverage later, when costs are under control and the American people can afford it. I am glad the President organized the Blair House Summit, and I wish he had done it earlier. He has the GOP recommendations and Republicans are looking forward to the time when meaningful reform and progress can take place. The first step will be the defeat of “Obamacare”.
If the Democrats have such a great deal, why has it taken 15 months of non-stop “debate”? Why has Barack Obama given at least 38 speeches on this subject? Why were so many shady backroom deals required? Why are members of Congress exempt from these proposed health insurance pools?
Republicans need 38 House Democrats to stop the bill, and 39 of them voted with the GOP the last lime. This group does include Eric Massa (NY) who resigned and Parker Griffith (AL) who switched parties. All Republicans, including Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), are united in opposition, and so far 21 House Democrats have announced they will vote with the GOP. This group includes vulnerable Reps. Michael Arcuri (N.Y.) and Joe Donnelly (IN) who have switched their votes from yes to no.
The others are still undecided. According to “The Hill” newspaper, “Hardly any Democrat running for Congress seems to want to talk about health care. Of the 26 leading Democratic House candidates contacted by “The Hill”, only one would commit to voting for the Senate health care bill.” These Democrats know this legislation requires the infusion of another trillion dollars and it doesn’t rein in costs. In order to press forward with the reconciliation process, House members now have to vote on the bill passed by the Senate last year.