Enzi, Other GOP Finance Negotiators Cast Doubts On Health Bill’s Prospects
The Associated Press: "A leading GOP negotiator on health care struck a further blow to fading chances of a bipartisan compromise by saying Democratic proposals would restrict medical choices and make the country's 'finances sicker without saving you money.' ... In the Republicans' weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, [Sen. Mike] Enzi, D-Wyo., said any health care legislation must lower medical costs for Americans without increasing deficits and the national debt. 'The bills introduced by congressional Democrats fail to meet these standards,' he said."
"Enzi, together with Republican Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Olympia Snowe of Maine, has held talks with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont. But the chance of a bipartisan breakthrough has diminished in the face of an effective public mobilization by opponents of Democratic proposals" (Kuhnhenn, 8/29).
The Hill: "Adopting one of the GOP's favored lines of attack, Enzi said the plan would particularly hurt the elderly. 'These bills also raid Medicare,' Enzi said. 'This will result in cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the elderly to create new government programs.' Democrats and President Obama have said they'll cut waste, fraud and abuse from Medicare to help pay for reform, but deny that the quality of care will be adversely affected" (Zimmermann, 8/29).
Related KHN story: Grassley: No Longer Sure That Bipartisan Deal Possible In September
NPR outlines the concerns of various members of the "key group of senators known as the Gang of Six. Three Democrats and three Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee have continued to work on a compromise health care bill through Congress' summer recess."
One example is Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who "tells NPR that controlling costs is her primary focus: 'What we have to do is develop a plan that's going to be available to people on an affordable basis ... containing costs, both for the American consumer and the American taxpayer'" (8/28).
The New York Times examined Snowe in particular: "Mr. Grassley and Mr. Enzi have, during the August recess, become increasingly at odds with Democratic approaches to health care. This has given Ms. Snowe a high degree of leverage as Democrats ask, What does Olympia Snowe want? The senator, a centrist from Maine who is no stranger to breaking with her party on policy, said she was still working out the answer, though she said the August recess had led her to believe that Congress might have to scale back its health care expectations.
"Ms. Snowe says she wants the public to understand that there is a serious problem, that the health care system is in crisis and that even people who are happy with their current coverage will not stay content for long, given rapidly rising costs and steadily shrinking benefits" (Hulse, 8/28).