Current Health Reform Effort Haunted By Health Bills Of The Past
The current health reform debate is haunted by previous health legislation, according to news reports.
Key provisions of the 1993 Republican bill, introduced by Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., with 19 other Republicans and two Democrats, "may seem familiar, as they bear a strong resemblance to those in the current Democratic Senate bill, and now in President Barack Obama's proposal," Kaiser Health News reports. "A mandate that individuals buy insurance, subsidies for the poor to buy insurance and the requirement that insurers offer a standard benefits package and refrain from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions were all in the 1993 GOP bill." KHN talks to then-Sen. Dave Durenberger, R-Minn., one of the co-sponsors, who "says the reason many of these ideas have been shunned by today's Republicans, even called unconstitutional by some, is that political times have changed. 'The main thing that's changed is the definition of a Republican,' he said" (Mertens, 2/23).
The Hill reports that Sen. Orinn Hatch, R-Utah, says it's wrong to compare the Republican bill to expand Medicare prescription drug benefits with the health care bills pending in Congress. "The two bills aren't comparable, Hatch said during an appearance on CNBC Tuesday, because the prescription drug bill 'helped millions and millions of Americans to get their drug costs down.' That bill, for which Hatch, along with 37 other Republican senators, had voted, was considered one of the largest expansions of a healthcare entitlement to date. The bill had also relied in substantial deficit spending, which, Hatch said, would have been bridged if not for Democratic opposition to cuts and savings" (O'Brien, 2/23).