Senate Bill Draws Immediate Reactions From GOP, Interest Groups
Republicans quickly rebuked Senate Democrats' health overhaul bill after its release last night, Roll Call reports. They said it would result in higher insurance premiums, tax hikes, and Medicare cuts, and complained that it was drafted behind closed doors, and that they have not yet had a chance to read it. "It is my hope that Sen. Reid will afford all Americans the same courtesy that he had: ample time to study the legislation and deliberate the best way to proceed," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a leading Republican. ... Senate Budget ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) charged that the Democrats' cost estimate 'uses sleight-of-hand budgetary tricks by assuming unrealistic tax increases and Medicare cuts that Members of Congress will not be willing to follow through on'" (Pierce, 11/18)
One Democratic leader, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, retorted, "We invite Senator McConnell to post the Republican health care reform bill on the Internet tonight so we can compare the two," The New York Times reported, after the Democrats' bill became available on the Web. "Republicans were not taking the bait. They have long said that they have no intention of offering a comprehensive bill" (Herszenhorn, 11/18).
Outside interest groups also reacted to the Senate legislation. "Doug Johnson, the legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, called Reid's abortion restrictions 'completely unacceptable. ... Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nv.) has rejected the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts Amendment and has substituted completely unacceptable language that would result in coverage of abortion on demand in two big new federal government programs,'" Politico reports (O'Connor, 11/18).
And, "AARP, the association representing millions of retired Americans, offered a qualified endorsement on Wednesday night of the new health care bill produced by Senate Democratic leaders," The New York Times reports. While the group supports provisions increasing assistance for long-term care and access for wellness programs, it complained the legislation did not do more to close the Medicare "doughnut hole," a gap in drug coverage for seniors (Seelye, 11/18).