Democrat says health overhaul needs GOP to pass

Sunday, July 26, 2009 | 4:28 p.m. CDT; updated 11:15 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats alone cannot pass President Barack Obama's ambitious overhaul of how Americans receive health care, a top lawmaker acknowledged on Sunday. Republicans said they will continue their opposition to a plan they say is simply a government takeover of private decisions.

Both sides said they want to improve the system and provide care for almost 50 million Americans who lack health insurance coverage, but they remain deeply divided over how to reach that goal. Republicans said the longer the delay, the more the public understands the stakes of a policy that has vexed lawmakers for decades.

"Republicans want to protect the right of Americans to make their own health care decisions, to pick their own doctors and their own plans," Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said. "We could have a plan in a few weeks if the goal is not a government takeover. We've never seen the government operate a plan of any kind effectively and at the budgets we talked about."

Democrats countered that their plans — and there are many iterations on Capitol Hill, as committees in both the House and Senate work on versions — would expand coverage without adding to the deficit. Even so, they are likely to leave for an August recess without a vote.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said they are "80 percent" in agreement on what a final version will include and are making progress.

In separate interviews, Obama adviser David Axelrod used the same line, underscoring the White House's desire to paint the missed deadline as a hiccup rather than a hurdle.

"Now, we're at the final 20 percent and we're trying to work through those details," Axelrod said during one appearance.

During another, he added: "We're less interested in hard deadlines than in moving the process forward. The deadlines have had a disciplining effect. ... What we don't want is for the process to bog down here. We want to keep moving forward, and I believe we will." 

That final piece, however, will require GOP backing — something Sen. Mitch McConnell said was unlikely. The Senate minority leader said congressional Democrats are having difficulty selling a health care bill to their own members.

"The only thing bipartisan about the measure so far is the opposition to it," said McConnell, R-Ky.

It's a reality a key Democratic senator acknowledged. Even though the Democrats enjoy a majority in the Senate, some are skittish about the financial or political costs of the proposals.

"Look, there are not the votes for Democrats to do this just on our side of the aisle," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the chairman of the powerful budget committee.

Or even their side of the Capitol.

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat and a member of the fiscally conservative "Blue Dogs," said he doubts the Democratic-controlled House could pass a proposal.

"We have a long way to go," he said. "David Axelrod is right; we have agreement on 70 or 80 percent of the legislation, but it is important we get the other details right, too."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, insisted she has the votes in her chamber to move forward with the plan despite the same concerns among fiscally conservative fellow Democrats.

"When I take this bill to the floor, it will win. We will move forward, it will happen," Pelosi said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who led her husband's failed health care push in 1993, said Obama has made a convincing case for an overhaul.

"He's waded right into it. And I am somewhat encouraged by what I see happening in the Congress. You know, I've been there. I know how hard this is," said Clinton, a one-time Obama rival.

"I think that the time has come. I think this president is committed to it. I think the leadership in Congress understands we have to do something. And I, I think we'll get it done."

DeMint and Conrad spoke with ABC's "This Week." Gibbs appeared on "Fox News Sunday." Axelrod appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" and CNN's "State of the Union. Cooper appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation." McConnell and Pelosi also were interviewed for CNN's "State of the Union." Clinton appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press."


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Ray Shapiro July 26, 2009 | 5:13 p.m.

("Both sides said they want to improve the system and provide care for almost 50 million Americans who lack health insurance coverage, but they remain deeply divided over how to reach that goal.")
What did you expect from a 2-party system?
Improvement in expense and accessibility to health care, health life-style choices and alternative options is a noble goal.
Most of those 50 million Americans who "lack health insurance coverage," however does not mean that government intervention in the insurance business is necessary as many of those "uninsured" do in fact get health care, as needed.
In America, being "uninsured" is not a death sentence or exclusion from other health care programs/clinics/hospitals/treatments/alternatives.
Many who are not "insured" also just choose to be uninsured for a variety of reasons.

("Many of the uninsured are young and healthy (40 percent are between ages 18 and 34) and at this point in their lives, particularly in this economy, choose to put their dollars elsewhere."

Apparently those who are legally in this country, and are involuntarily uninsured for an extended period of time, constitute a small number of people. Moreover, the involuntarily uninsured are not forced in this country to go without medical treatment.

"The notion that the uninsured are without health care is bogus, as well. They consumed an estimated $116 billion worth of health care in 2008, according to the advocacy group Families USA."

So based on a fabricated crisis, Obama panics and is attempting to hand doctors, hospitals, and patients over to an army of bureaucrats.")

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 26, 2009 | 5:23 p.m.

Politics once again gets in the way of reason and reality as Obama's minions jump on a bandwagon and put a spin on America's Health Care system.
1. America's Health Care system is not broken. It is over burdened, to some degree, and needs to be tweaked, not taken over.
2, It is overburdened because we use the insurance concept model to dole out health care, (both premiums and actuaries which inflate costs for malpractice expenses, premiums and coverage amounts.) Bring down health care costs by first doing away with insurance as a "health cost" contributor. Get the AMA, big Pharma and Medical Universities to work on the "expense and access" issues. Not politicians/political parties.
3. We allow people who should be sent back to their birth country, (illegal aliens), to have a "free" ride.
4. We don't have checks and balances in Medicaid and Medicare concerning fraudulent and excessive billings. Fix Medicaid and Medicare, without hurting the patents, and improve/extend the VA hospital system. Show me that the government can do a decent job with that first, then get back to me with Obama ideas on how to partner with the health care professionals instead of an attempted coup of the industry.
5. Uninsured does not mean no access to health care. Show me numbers of people dying in America because of no access to health care. There are also many people who do not apply for or utilize "free" or "sliding scale" health care resources, from United Way and other nonprofit voluntary health and human care service agencies, by their own choice. Uninsured does not mean no availability of health care, in America.
6. People recover from bankruptcy.
Medical costs are not even that big of an issue, concern or cause of most bankruptcies. In fact, maybe our government should declare bankruptcy and start all over again, with a clean slate. It'll give them a chance to become better fiscal managers of taxpayers' monies. (Or does their fiscal management plan include constantly printing up more money and attempting to increase personal income taxes to 75%?)
Soon, we will all be working for and/or totally dependent on the government.
(The government of Obama, for Obama by Obama.)

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro July 26, 2009 | 5:31 p.m.

We need to drive down the expense of health care, not destroy the quality of care currently available.
Health care providers need to be free of insurance companies.
If you follow the money, insurance companies are a major part of the expense problem.
Obama is not reforming the health care industry.
He is becoming an insurance salesman.
Insurance is just another bureaucracy.
Government workers push paper. Insurance companies dole out benefits, (aka entitlements). It's a perfectly understandable fit, but highly flawed.
True changes to improve health care accessibility could look something like this:
1. Eliminating health care as an insurable commodity from insurance companies. Eliminate malpractice premiums to insurance companies as this too puts a financial burden on the health care industry.
2. Shift most of the responsibility of accessibility to the AMA. The AMA, directly or through Medical Schools can work out the "malpractice" issue with their accountants and attorneys concerning "risk-management."
3. Government employees manufacturing medical supply/equipment can offset the expense of health care "accessories."
4. Government employees can manufacture most medications.
(Research and development can continue with the "inventors.")
5. The government and the AMA can work together to reduce/subsidize the schooling and certification of physicians and key medical professionals.
6. Remove the military from the management of VA hospitals. Assign these hospitals to Health and Human Services and afford accessibility to vets and the indigent.
These are just a few ideas I've made up off the top of my head. I could come up with more. So can other people. It amazes me that politicians see orchestrating an insurance industry coup as their only option. Even Republicans buckle under the influence of insurance company stockholders and board of directors. The American public is being duped by Democratic Party propaganda and blinded by Presidential charisma. Our health care system is not broken. It can be improved with some tweaking to move the "doctor" culture in the right direction.

The feds already have too much debt and overspend on everything. Their current plan will only cost the taxpayer and employers more money and heart ache.
When it comes to "reforming health care" they should be looking outside the insurance box and focus on the psyche of doctors, nurses, medical technicians, counselors and physical therapists and patients more so then on their own agenda for an all encompassing bureaucracy.
Obama is wrong on this one.
His ego, and the power crazed efforts of other political left liberal progressives, prevents him from seeing anything but that agenda.
Insurance czar should not be part of his agenda.
He is our commander-in chief of our Armed Forces...His place is not to be Chief of Staff of our Medical Community.

(Report Comment)
Greg Collins July 27, 2009 | 9:10 a.m.

The translation is "the Democrats have the votes but they desperately need bipartisan cover for this nightmare."

(Report Comment)

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