KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Tea Party Steeps On Capitol Hill

The Washington Post reports: "Newly emboldened after Republican victories in Tuesday's elections, 'tea party' protesters and other demonstrators from across the country converged on the Capitol's West Lawn to wave flags, ring cowbells and deliver a blunt message to lawmakers: 'Kill this bill!'" The demonstrators came from all over the country, answering rallying cries by Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., on conservative talk-radio shows and united by anger about the growing role of the federal government and its deficit (Rucker, 11/6).

Reporting from the scene, The New York Times noted, "It's a generally older crowd, many in their 50s and 60s, predominantly, white, and many self-identified as Christians. They are fiercely conservative and deeply skeptical of the government, many of them adamantly opposed to abortion rights." In addition to the shouts to "kill this bill," protestors bore signs saying "Sweeping Away Socialism One Democrat at a Time" and "Politicians Lie, Patients Die" (Herszenhorn, 11/5).

Most House Republicans appeared on the Capitol Steps overlooking the protesters, The Dallas Morning News reports. They took turns "whipping up the crowd, not that it took much effort." Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Tex., said, "We heard from you this summer. It was like an inoculation. It was like a vaccination to prevent the illness known as Pelosi-care. … But when we came back in September, that immunity started to wane, and it started to get weak. So this is our booster shot" (Gillman, 11/6).

Some Democrats hope they can quell concerns about the most divisive issues raised by the protesters, such as immigration and abortion concerns, The Boston Globe reports. "Veteran lawmakers said they were confident they could add wording to ease the worries of colleagues and interest groups who believe -- Democratic leaders say without justification -- that taxpayers will be forced to fund abortions and illegal immigrants' health care" (Milligan, 11/6). 

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the House minority whip, "assured reporters that there were no Republican votes for the Democrats' health care bill, which is scheduled for a vote on Saturday," Roll Call reports. The Republican leadership is also actively seeking to gain some Democratic votes in opposition to the reform legislation (Drucker, 11/5).

Meanwhile, "Behind the scenes … lawyers connected with the Tea Party movement are planning a legal assault on healthcare reform," The Christian Science Monitor reports. The lawyers argue that Congress would be overstepping its authority by requiring Americans to buy health insurance just because they live in the country. They also say tax penalties on people who choose not to buy insurance would violate the 16th Amendment. Many constitutional experts dismiss those arguments (Jonsson, 11/5). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.