GOP Strikes Back On Senate Health Vote
Republican senators turned out to criticize the Democratic health overhaul on Sunday talk shows, saying it is "something Bernie Madoff would really envy," would expand a "medical ghetto," and may "collapse of its own weight," The Hill reports. Supporting the bill, which cleared an initial Senate vote to bring the legislation to the floor Saturday night, is tantamount to ignoring "the wishes of the American people," the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday (Johnson, 11/22).
Saturday's vote, according to TIME magazine, "gave a clear picture of the Republican messaging strategy as the legislation moves forward into what promises to be weeks of tendentious debate after the Thanksgiving recess. The minority intends to launch a series of surgical strikes on key parts of the bill, and to raise questions about whether it all adds up to what the Democrats are claiming" (Tumulty, 11/23).
Republicans are anticipating the 2010 elections, The Wall Street Journal reports. Though "ensuring that Democrats bear full responsibility for [the health care] legislation the GOP sees as increasingly unpopular with Americans" will be a top priority, Republicans are also expected to challenge them for taking their focus off unemployment issues and the economy (Hitt, 11/23).
Meanwhile, "Anxious that Saturday's party-line Senate vote to open debate on a health care overhaul gives them little maneuvering room, Obama administration officials and their Congressional allies are stepping up overtures to select Senate Republicans in hopes of winning their ultimate support," The New York Times reports. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both Maine Republicans, have been encouraged to "bring forward their ideas and concerns" by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Collins received a visit from former senator, and now Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar as well (Hulse, 11/22).
Not every prominent member of the Republican Party is altogether against a health care overhaul. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and Bush health secretary, has been pushing the message "that the health care system needs a major overhaul, that 80% of what's in the current health care proposals is stuff everyone can agree on and that the country needs to pay more attention to wellness, disease prevention and chronic illness" (Marrero, 11/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.