Clinton Gives Senate Dems A Reform Pep Talk
The Associated Press reports on Former President Bill Clinton's pep talk to Senate Democrats today. Stressing what he said was "an economic imperative," he told "anxious Senate Democrats ... to pass a health care bill soon because the U.S. economy can't resist the toxic combination of exorbitant medical costs and nearly 50 million uninsured for much longer." He also spoke to them about the bill's complexities and the lawmakers' own concerns, but said "there is no perfect bill - you'll always have unintended consequences. There will be amendments to this next year" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/10).
USA Today on Clinton's take home message to senators: "'It's important to act now, to start the ball rolling,' Clinton told reporters afterward. 'The worst thing to do is nothing.'"
"Clinton was the last president to try and fail to enact a sweeping health care reform bill," an outcome "widely credited with the Democrats' losing control of the House and Senate the following year. Some Democrats said Clinton's experience made him the perfect messenger as Democrats face what are likely to be tough votes on a controversial bill. 'He told us we are on the edge of history and to get the job done,' said Sen. Paul Kirk, D-Mass" (Keily, 11/10).
Roll Call: "Clinton apparently spent little time explicitly reminding Senators" of his own reform history, instead focusing on why action is necessary. "'He made the case, first and foremost, on policy, that this is critical to the country both on economic context as well as the health care context,' Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) said." Menendez also said Clinton reminded the Democrats that failure to accomplish this task would have a "significant political result" (Pierce and Drucker, 11/10).
Also on Tuesday, "Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid and his No. 2, Dick Durbin, said they hoped to bring the Senate's healthcare bill to the floor next week and to have the first procedural vote on whether to open debate," Reuters reports. However, Durbin acknowledged that the calendar could make it difficult to meet the president's deadline to sign a health care reform bill by the year's end. "'I hope so, but just count the days,'" Durbin told reporters in response to question's about the President's deadline. Durbin also offered "a new target" for action in the Senate. "'Our goal is to make sure it is out of the Senate this year,' Durbin said." Following that timeline could allow "negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate versions" to take place in January. After that, each chamber would have to pass the agreed upon bill "before Obama could sign it into law" (Whitesides and Ferraro, 11/10).
Bloomberg: "Reid told reporters he believes the Senate can pass the measure by the end of the year. Asked whether he had the 60 votes needed to begin debate, he said, 'I hope so'" (Rowley and Jensen, 11/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.