Sen. Lincoln, Who Once Won Election On Support for Health Care Reform, Feeling Political Pressures
Politico: "Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln has run two successful Senate campaigns on pledges to expand and improve health insurance coverage. Now, as Congress works to deliver on that promise, it threatens to become an issue that could end her career."
A recent poll showing Lincoln's numbers highlight the difficulties she is facing. "Just 43 percent of Arkansans view her performance favorably, and 49 percent deemed it unfavorable, according to a Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll. Her support among Democrats was a modest 66 percent and had plummeted among independents to 39 percent. As their primary field takes shape, the Republican Party in Arkansas held a string of events -- with help from the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- to draw attention to Lincoln's comments on health care and to argue she's lost touch with her home state.
"Lincoln has set some broad goals for health care reform: that it be deficit-neutral, curb long-term costs and provide consumers with more insurance options. She was among the moderate Democrats who tracked and weighed in on the work of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and his bipartisan negotiations. But she delayed taking a firm position on creation of a government-backed insurance option, which prompted both sides to criticize and pressure her through television advertising and grass-roots mobilization" (Cummings, 9/28).
The Associated Press: Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in the meantime, is flexing her political muscles on reform. "Snowe stands as the woman with the most clout in Washington, poised at the intersection of ambitious efforts to change the nation's system of medical care amid competing political forces. If she votes with the Democrats, Obama could secure the biggest win of his young presidency" (Kellman, 9/28).
The New York Times: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering how to referee the imminent fight to merge the two Senate bills. "(A)ides say he will lean heavily on President Obama to arbitrate a number of contentious issues that still threaten to divide liberal and centrist Democrats and derail a final bill. With the Senate Finance Committee on track to approve its bill, perhaps this week, Mr. Reid and his staff are bracing for tough negotiations to marry that proposal, written during months of talks with Republicans, and a more liberal bill that was approved by the Senate health committee on a party-line vote in mid-July" (Herszenhorn and Pear, 9/27).
USA Today: Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., hopes to shore up health insurance protections in the Senate Finance reform bill for workers at large companies that self insure. The proposal being debated by the committee would not keep plans from barring a denial of coverage to beneficiaries with pre-existing conditions or prohibiting companies from setting limits on how much will be paid out to sick patients. "'They can be cut off; there are no caps," says Rockefeller, the second-highest-ranking Democrat on the committee. 'I'm determined to fix it'" (Fritze, 9/28).