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Democrats increasingly divided on public optionAugust 5, 2009

Posted Oct 04 2009 11:14pm

So called progressive members of Congress (used to be called liberals) seem so hell bent on having the government inject a Trojan horse public plan into health reform that they appear oblivious to the fact the meaningful, substantive, common sense, Real Health Reform is within the their grasp, and more importantly, within the grasp of every citizen.  The public plan has been a bad idea from the get go.  Increasingly the public at large is beginning to realize that it is a subterfuge intended to help move the nation closer to a single payer system – a single payer system controlled by Washington DC.

While many polls show a majority of the general public in favor of health reform, the same majorities are satisfied with their health care.  Polls also show frustration on the part of the majority with physicians in general, but the same majorities think their own doctors are great.  Think there might be a bit of reality disconnect in these polls?  We do.  That is why time is helpful for those who are interesting in real health reform as opposed to furthering any progressive (liberal), utopian or socialist agendas among the elite class sitting within the capital building.

We urge all to read (if you can stand it) the 1,000 plus pages contained in House bill 3200.  While there are some facets which are meritorious, we think careful inspection will find much which raises great concern and justifiable worry.  Now is the time for review, analysis, debate and for citizens to make their voices heard in a common sense manner.  Agitating either for change for change’s sake or for maintenance of the status quo are positions which are not valid.  But we cannot and must not blindly accept the legislation that is being proposed by the Democratic majority.  It needs major revision and deletion and we hope that the Senate will provide the wisdom to bridge the gap between medelsome government intervention and takeover and common sense regulation and reform . . . obi jo

Democrats seen as increasingly divided on public option

Congress’ efforts to overhaul the nation’s health care system have been marred by confusion and a striking lack of consensus even among the ruling Democrats, despite intense but failed efforts by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders to craft a plan by early August. The House of Representatives adjourned Friday for a five-week summer recess with conservative and liberal Democrats still at odds over the cost and the government’s role in any health care overhaul, putting off a floor vote until at least September. In the Senate, bipartisan negotiators from its Finance Committee have been unable in weeks of talks to reach agreement on several items, notably how to pay for a $900 billion plan. They anticipate no deal before the Senate adjourns for a month on Aug. 7.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has a long history of teaming up with Democrats on healthcare legislation, says Democratic healthcare reform plans now under consideration are “out of this world.” Hatch also told The Hill in a Friday interview he would be “shocked” if Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) sign onto a healthcare deal with Democrats given the current trajectory of the legislation. Hatch’s strong opposition to the Democrats’ healthcare plans suggests that Democrats will have a very difficult time convincing any Republicans aside from centrist Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Susan Collins (Maine) to support a deal. Grassley, who has spent up to six hours a day locked in a room with Baucus negotiating healthcare reform, has already slowed down the pace of talks. “It’ll be a lost opportunity if Democratic leaders in Congress and the administration force action on healthcare legislation that’s not ready because of the complexity of the issue and the high stakes in getting it right,” Grassley said in a statement Thursday.

Hatch was one of a handful of Republicans involved in negotiations with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) before dropping out two weeks ago. The senior Utah lawmaker said no single disagreement prompted him to pull out of the talks but that he arrived at his decision to disengage “gradually.” “I think Baucus could negotiate a good deal but they won’t let him, he’s constrained,” Hatch said of pressure on Baucus from President Barack Obama, Democratic leaders and liberal members of the Senate caucus. “The Democrats want a public option and they’re going to have a public option in the final bill,” Hatch said in reference to a proposal to create a broad government-run insurance program. He predicted that even if Baucus manages to pass a healthcare reform package with a membership-run co-op insurance plan instead of a government-run program, he would lose out to liberals in negotiations between the Senate and House. “He’ll be crushed in the middle,” Hatch said of prospective Senate-House negotiations, adding that Democrats are intent on creating a system of “socialized medicine” in the United States.

Hatch pointed to what he considered major problems with Democratic healthcare reform proposals:

- They make no effort to curtail medical malpractice lawsuits, which Republicans claim cost $100 billion a year.

- Pending legislation could result in drastic cuts in Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals. Hatch said that doctors could see their reimbursements go down 25 percent and hospitals could see a 35 percent drop.

-“The real problem is their ideas are out of this world,” he said of the Democrats’ healthcare proposals. “They’re saying they’re going to get $400-plus billion out of Medicare and Medicare is in debt right now.

- “They’re going to pay doctors 25 percent less and going to pay hospitals 35 percent less and they think that system is going to work.”

A reform plan put together by House Democrats calls for $500 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade to help pay for the cost of covering about 45 million Americans currently without healthcare insurance. But this does not sit well with Republicans and conservative Democrats given Medicare’s projected insolvency within the next decade. In May the Obama administration announced that Medicare is running out of funding faster than projected. Obama administration officials predict that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will become exhausted by 2017.

Defenders of the House healthcare bill say the legislation would reinvest nearly $300 billion back into Medicare to increase payments to doctors. But that would still result in a net reduction of about $200 billion, which would be used to pay for expanded insurance coverage. Hatch’s strong opposition is a troubling sign for Democrats because he has been party to some of the biggest healthcare bills to pass Congress in recent year. He joined with Sen. Edward Kennedy in 1997 to create the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover the kids of working-class parents who did not qualify for Medicaid. Hatch also teamed up with Democrats to pass legislation expanding stem cell research in 2007, one of the first priorities of Democrats after they regained control of Congress. Before the Democratic take-over, Hatch sided with Democrats in pressing former President George W. Bush to accept legislation that would have expanded SCHIP by $35 million over five years. Bush vetoed the legislation. Hatch voted against an expansion of SCHIP when it came up for another vote earlier this year because Democrats rewrote the bill and excluded him from having input. Hatch said the version that passed in January made “a mockery of the original intent by expanding CHIP to cover people for whom the program was never intended.” The bill expanded health coverage in some parts of the country to the children of families earning up to $88,000.

Democrats walk a careful line on healthcare –

Lawmakers heading home still divided on health care –

Democrats Find Rallying Points on Health Reform, but Splinters Remain –

Two Sides Take Health Care Debate Outside Washington –

Lawmakers Move to Sell Health-Care Plan to Voters –

Hatch: Dem healthcare plan ‘out of this world’ –

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