KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

News Examines Lawmakers’ Contributions In Health Reform Debate

Over the last 27 sessions of Congress, there has always been a Dingell universal health care bill, introduced first by Rep. John D. Dingell's father during World War II, and then by his son, The Washington Times reports.

"The bill, to create a single-payer universal-coverage health system, stood little chance of passage over the decades, making its biennial introduction more of a tribute by Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., to his father, who introduced similar legislation when he was in Congress, representing the same Michigan district his son now represents. This year, however, the longest-serving member in the history of the House of Representatives says the introduction of his health care bill is going to be more than symbolic.

"At President Obama's urging, the House has begun hearings on its massive health care reform bill, a proposal that would change the course of American health care. Democratic colleagues have officially named the bill after Mr. Dingell to honor his work."

Dingell said he's happy with a proposal by other Democrats to provide care for most Americans. "Still, the bill the House is working on now isn't exactly what the Dingells have proposed, which typically carries the bill number of the Dingell district - 15 or 16. Both offer universal coverage, but the older bill would have created a single-payer health care system, which today is a politically volatile proposition most observers think Congress is not ready to accept. But even the modified bill 'is going to make progress,' Mr. Dingell insisted. 'It's going to solve the problems that we confront'" (Haberkornm 6/30).

Dingell told community health providers gathered Monday that he's ready for a fresh fight on reform, The Detroit Free Press reports. "'Every nickel in the country will go toward healthcare,' Dingell said to the small group at Western Wayne County Health Centers. 'We're 10% of the way with the national health care reform bill,' Dingell said" (Satyanarayana, 6/29).

In the meantime, Sen. Olympia Snow said that a bipartisan bill would make a government plan take effect if private insurance fails to deliver affordable coverage, The Associated Press reports: "Snowe, R-Maine, said she's working with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to establish that kind of a framework in the bill expected to emerge next month from the Senate Finance Committee. … In an [AP] interview in Portland, Snowe said it would be unfair to include a government-run health insurance option that would take effect immediately" (Harkavy, 6/29).

Sen. Joe Lieberman is also weighing in on reform issues, The Connecticut Post reports: "Lieberman said there is bipartisan agreement on roughly 80 percent of what a potential health-care reform bill should include, but there are certain sticking points, such as cost. Early estimates showed that the reform could cost as much as $1.6 trillion over the course of 10 years. Lawmakers are trying to get the cost down to $1 trillion" (Cuda, 6/30).

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