KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Personalities Shape, Debate Health Reform Bill

The New York Times Prescriptions Blog reports on a ripple in "the Senate's predominant history as an old-boys' club." It notes that "to move the bill forward for full debate, the Democrats' last two crucial votes came from women: Senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. And when it comes time for the final consideration of the bill, two other women may cast similarly crucial votes: Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republicans who are expected to be courted heavily by Democrats and the White House." And, as the  debate "heads into the final stretch, there is the possibility of this women's Gang of Four calling the shots" (Herszenhorn, 11/23).

The Wall Street Journal: "Sen. Joseph Lieberman, speaking in that trademark sonorous baritone, utters a simple statement that translates into real trouble for Democratic leaders:'I'm going to be stubborn on this.' Stubborn, he means, in opposing any health-care overhaul that includes a 'public option,' or government-run health-insurance plan, as the current bill does. His opposition is strong enough that Mr. Lieberman says he won't vote to let a bill come to a final vote if a public option is included" (Seib, 11/24).

The Hill: "President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) played major roles in allowing Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to retain his committee gavel in 2008. One year later, Lieberman could end up killing Obama's and Reid's No. 1 priority: enacting healthcare reform. Lieberman ... has made it clear he will support a filibuster of a bill that calls for a large government role in administering new healthcare benefits. Reid has downplayed the maverick's opposition, recently going as far as to say that Lieberman is the least of his worries" (Rushing, 11/24).

Fox News reports on Sen. John McCain, who held a town hall meeting in Phoenix Monday. "Sen. McCain, is against the Democrats' healthcare reform bill, saying it would lead to healthcare rationing. ... McCain blasted one of the bills working its way through Congress right now. He invited doctors to get their feedback on how to best improve the healthcare system in this country. He also laid out some of his ideas for reform, including giving people tax credits to buy health insurance, and cracking down on malpractice suits against doctors" (11/23).

Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota's senators are demonstrating a divide on the health bill: Democrat Tim Johnson supports it and Republican John Thune opposes it. "The two senators disagree on cost and principle. Johnson said the bill will cut the federal budget deficit $130 billion over 10 years. It will reduce insurance premiums and ensure coverage for people who suffer pre-existing health conditions that exclude them from protection today, he said. ... Thune said Democrats understate the expense. He said the bill would cost taxpayers up to $2.5 trillion over 10 years" (Walker, 11/24).

Roll Call reports on House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) who discussed health care at a job fair: "For the last two weeks, House Republicans have criticized Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration for focusing too heavily on crafting a bill to reform the American health care system while job growth remains stagnant. But as Cantor worked his way through the Daniel Technology Center at Germanna Community College, he was peppered with questions from job seekers and other attendees about the progress and the contents of the health care reform measures in the House and Senate" (Kucinich, 11/23).

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