Critics Escalate Attacks On Health Care Overhaul
Tensions are showing as health reform continues to be center stage on the President's and Congress' domestic policy agenda. The Associated Press reports that "President Barack Obama has learned the lessons of Bill Clinton's failed bid to overhaul the nation's health care system. Too well, in fact, say fellow Democrats angry over [Obama's] refusal to intervene while a conservative proposal advances in the Senate," feel Obama has "over-learned the lessons of 1993 and is bending over too far to attract GOP support in the Senate." Obama supports a public option for health insurance, but "wants to avoid issuing nonnegotiable demands early in the legislative process," say White House aides. "Insurance companies oppose the public option proposal. Their cause was hurt this week when congressional investigators said two-thirds of the U.S. health insurance industry used a faulty database that overcharged patients for seeing doctors outside their insurance network, costing Americans billions of dollars in inflated medical bills" (Babington, 6/26).
In addition, "Thousands of grassroots activists and labor workers from across the country flooded Capitol Hill Thursday for a high-volume rally for health care reform," Politico reports. "Health Care for America Now, an organization that is mounting an aggressive public lobbying effort in support the president's plan, organized the event, in which supporters vowed "not to back down." But there were also "reminders that the health care reform effort has its detractors. While [Sen. Charles] Schumer [D-N.Y.] spoke, one protester grabbed a bullhorn and yelled his support for a single-payer health care option nearly drowning out Schumer." Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told supporters "The private health care industry will not hijack this process. We're counting on you to persuade, to cajole, to do whatever you do to get a public option" (Isenstadt, 6/25).
Meanwhile, "The type of advertising war that helped doom the last effort to overhaul the nation's health care system is heating up," USA Today reports. "Business groups opposed to health care bills floated by House and Senate Democrats launched print ads this week. The Republican National Committee ran its own TV ad as well." The increase in advertising "comes as Congress begins to move on Democratic legislation," and as legislators head back to their districts for the July Fourth recess. While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The National Federation of Independent Business, and the GOP are running adds, "so far, insurers have kept their money on the sidelines" (Wolf, 6/26).