KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Lawmakers Sound Off On Health Bill: Pascrell, McCain, Durbin, Hatch And Murphy

Some of the key Congressional lawmakers sound off on the state of health care legislation.

Politico: "Rep. Bill Pascrell [D-N.J.] has called fellow Democrats 'arrogant' and referred to a key party talking point as 'BS.' He slammed deals cut by leadership and special interests and said, 'We're not going to accept that any longer.' Agitated and unfiltered, Pascrell has become the guy who's not afraid to go public with what many rank-and-file House Democrats have been saying behind closed doors. Everyone knew there were cracks in Democratic unity, but Pascrell's attacks - delivered to a handful of reporters late last week - reveal that the cracks are closer to a gaping hole. Democratic aides will chalk up this kind of talk to frustration with a process that's slogged on for way too long. But Pascrell is not the only Democrat expressing ire and angst" (Sherman, 1/25).

The New York Times: "In the wake of a political setback for national health care legislation, Senator John McCain [R-Ariz.], the losing candidate in the last presidential election, advised his victorious 2008 adversary on Sunday that the way to get meaningful changes passed is to 'start from the beginning' by meeting with Republicans." McCain "said on the CBS news program 'Face the Nation' that President Obama should sit down with Republican leaders and begin adopting some of their ideas for improving the nation's health care system such as overhauling medical malpractice lawsuits, allowing residents of one state to buy health insurance from a company in another state, and granting tax credits for people who purchase health insurance on their own" (Berger, 1/24).

The Salt Lake Tribune: "Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Sunday that Congress needs to hit the reset button on health care reform and that Republicans will work with their counterparts on new legislation -- if Democrats allow it. 'I don't know one Republican who does not want health care reform,' Hatch said on CNN's State of the Union. 'I don't know one Republican who wouldn't try to work together with the Democrats. We weren't even involved in this process. We weren't even asked' (Burr, 1/24).

The Washington Post quotes Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) from Sunday: "'For those who say, start over, let's start at the beginning, let's do a little bit, let's maybe do nothing, some say, I would just tell them, if we do nothing, the Medicare trust fund will be exhausted in seven years,' Durbin said, insisting that Republicans were allowed in the process but never seriously engaged" (Amick and Shapiro, 1/24).

Times Union (Albany, N.Y.): Rep. Scott Murphy, D-N.Y., "would like to see the health care reform bill broken into 'bite-sized' pieces, starting with abolishing lifetime limits on health insurance… Breaking up the health reform bill is something the House leadership is considering, Murphy said. He visited each of the 137 towns in his district over the past 10 months, and learned many people did not understand the bill because it was too complicated. In addition to ending lifetime caps on health insurance, Murphy wants to tackle Medicare fraud" (Hornbeck, 1/25).

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