Maine Fights For Senators’ Votes, Grassley Can’t Satisfy Either Side
Senators home for the Fourth of July recess found activists on each side of the health care debate waiting for them.
The two Republicans senators from Maine were among those targeted, The New York Times reports. "Here in Maine, home to (Sen. Olympia J.) Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins, moderate Republicans who could provide crucial support for the Democratic health care plan expected to emerge in the coming weeks, efforts to sway their votes - and to sweep average citizens into the debate - were intense."
"In interviews, Ms. Collins and Ms. Snowe said their constituents had become far more focused on the debate over the last month but appeared sharply divided on the issues. Though Maine has only 1.3 million residents, the challenges of insuring the entire population are complex. The state has large rural, poor and elderly populations with significant health needs. It has many small businesses and seasonal workers, and few employers large enough to voluntarily offer employees insurance. Meanwhile, most insurers no longer find it profitable to sell individual coverage here, leaving a few companies to dominate the market" (Goodnough, 6/5).
Politico profiled Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa: "To many Republicans, he is a Democratic enabler, playing into President Barack Obama's strategy of winning a few GOP votes and calling the final product bipartisan. Senate Republican leaders have gone so far as to suggest Grassley doesn't speak for their members. To many Democrats, Grassley is the guest who stayed at the party too long. They can't do much of what they want to do on health care as long as he stays at the negotiating table. Grassley said he plans to stay as long as his conservative views are being heard and to leave when the bill crosses the line. That could happen in three weeks, when two Senate committees merge their separate bills ahead of a floor vote, or in three months, when the House and Senate meet in a conference committee. It would surprise most close observers of the process if Grassley stays through the end. He fundamentally disagrees with Democrats on one of their key priorities: the need for a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers" (Brown 7/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.