GOP And Industry Groups Quick To Decry Senate Health Bill
When Senate Democrats unveiled a bill meant to expand health coverage and restrain spending growth, "Republicans saw little to like," The Associated Press reports. GOP senators characterized the package Thursday "as a collection of tax increases, Medicare cuts and heavy new burdens for deficit-ridden states." Meanwhile, Republican governors fretted that the bill would expand Medicaid, a program that insures the poor, and relies on states for a portion of its funding. "We all know a sucker play when we see one," said Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniel (Espo, 11/20).
The governors, who were in Lost Pines, Texas, for the Republican Governors Association meeting, said their states were "already overburdened with federal mandates that increase their Medicaid costs," according to The New York Times. "Governors grousing about Medicaid spending is hardly a new phenomenon - it is the one sure thing you will hear at any meeting of governors, from any state and any party. But it takes on an added resonance when Democrats are pushing through a major overhaul of health care that will impose new costs on the states at a time when governors, almost without exception, are struggling with huge shortfalls in revenues," the Times reports (Nagourney, 11/19).
Meanwhile, "In a move that came as little surprise, the health insurance industry's lead lobbying group has come out against the Senate's health care reform plan," Roll Call reports. America's Health Insurance Plans's "issues with the Senate bill include new fees and taxes on health care plans and cuts to the Medicare Advantage program. The group made similar comments when the House passed its reform bill earlier this month" (Ackley, 11/19).
And The Wall Street Journal reports that "Several industry groups" including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the National Retail Federation "are banding together to ask Congress to scrap the current bills and start from scratch on a health overhaul. They are stepping up television advertising against Democrats' proposals." Their opposition to the Senate bill centers around the creation of a public insurance option and additional Medicare payroll taxes on the wealthy (Adamy, 11/20).
The Philadelphia Inquirer covered a speech by "Paul Starr, a Princeton University professor who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book on the history of health care: The Social Transformation of American Medicine," and who was also involved in the creation of the Clinton health plan. The Inquirer reports that he said "the country was 'closer than we ever have been to reform,' [but] he would not guess whether Congress would pass a bill this time. ... There was a time when many of the changes included in the House and Senate health bills would have been considered Republican or at least bipartisan ideas, Starr said" (Burling, 11/19).