Public Worried about Reform

by AdminJ on August 5, 2009

Publics concerns about the costs of the Health Care Reform. Nobody knows how much money it will cost us or tax us.


Members of the House left Washington Friday, and the Senate will soon follow suit. With a month before both chambers reconvene, lawmakers plan to drive home their views on overhauling health care.

And it will also be a heavy month of campaigning for all the interested parties — insurers, the medical doctors and others in that community, and advocates of a wholesale makeover or of no change at all — to take to the airwaves to try to keep swaying public opinion and pressure the White House and lawmakers.

In our Week in Review, The Times’s John Harwood examines the lobbying that has already swamped Capitol Hill on the subject. In part, he contends, the health-care lobbying brawl has been fueled by the administration’s decision to allow Congress to develop the proposals itself.

For its part, the Obama administration is stumping outside the Beltway. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks Sunday in Philadelphia and Monday in Connecticut. Mr. Obama will hit the road again this week, making another trip to Elkhart, Ind., where aides said he would also talk about the economy.

Before the House recessed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made sure all 256 members of the Democratic caucus would send the same message on “the issue of an official lifetime” — she handed out cards outlining talking points on the health care package offered up in the House.

Ms. Pelosi herself will spend a considerable amount of time stumping for the plan in her San Francisco district, and in places farther away such as Denver.

Still, just what the Democrats are selling remains a bit fluid, since there are three versions of the House bill and one version of the Senate’s bill. (A fifth congressional committee will vote on its own reform package mid-September.) Ceci Connolly at The Washington Post reviews the changing of the game plan for the latter part of the summer, and how Democrats, from the president on down, are being forced to retool their pitches.

New public opinion polls show concerns about the costs of a vast change, and worries — especially among those who have health insurance — that an overhaul would reduce individuals’ coverage. (The Times’s Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee-Brenan examined new findings in our poll with CBS News a few days ago.) That has opened a window wide for Republicans, the insurance industry and talk radio, all factions wanting the Democrats’ version of health care reform to fail, and to mine for use against Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections. Minority Leader John Boehner promised a “hot summer” for Democrats, contending that they have over-reached in their proposals to alter health insurance.

Republicans have capitalized on unanswered questions for the middle class and those who already have insurance, and have characterized the president’s plans as a “risky experiment.” In addition, insurers aren’t happy with being labeled the villains in all of this. A spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a leading industry group, complained to Politico’s Playbook that its members were tired of being scapegoats.

Meanwhile, on the legislative front going forward, Democrats are quietly considering a move that would kill Republicans’ chances to filibuster a health care debate. The Times’s Carl Hulse wrote in his On the Hill column of the possible action:

“They are talking reluctantly because using the tactic, officially known as reconciliation, would present a variety of serious procedural and substantive obstacles that could result in a piecemeal health bill. And they are whispering because the mere mention of reconciliation touches partisan nerves and could be viewed as a threat by the three Republicans still engaged in the delicate talks, causing them to collapse.

“Yet with the discussions so far failing to produce an agreement, Democrats are exploring whether they could use the tactic as a last resort to secure a health care victory if they have to go it alone. The answer: It would not be pretty and it would not be preferable, but it could be doable.”

Please Visit Us: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, is trying to reverse a Bush administration travel ban that prohibits federal agencies from holding conferences at resorts and vacation destinations.

The policy was intended to avoid roiling the public, but Mr. Reid said states like his are at a disadvantage, because the economy depends on tourism. He wants the Senate to vote this week on a bill that would market the United States abroad as a travel destination, and another that would prohibit the federal government from prohibiting certain types of locations.

Weekend Reads: The Los Angeles Times takes apart the speech-writing prep for the president’s closely watched speech in Cairo earlier this summer.

And The Washington Post offers excerpts from the book by its national political correspondent, Dan Balz, and Haynes Johnson: “Battle for America 2008.”




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