Party Leaders Stake Out Individual Positions For New Debate On Health Overhaul
Individual Republicans and Democrats began staking out their positions on the health overhaul quickly after the elections.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that "Republicans would use their new oversight powers in the House to keep pressure on the Obama administration and Democrats," Politico reports. "'We may not be able to bring about straight repeal in the next two years, and we may not win every vote against targeted provisions, even though we should have bipartisan support for some,' McConnell said during a Thursday speech at the Heritage Foundation. 'But we can compel administration officials to attempt to defend this indefensible health spending bill and other costly, government-driven measures, like the stimulus and financial reform'" (Wong, 11/4).
National Journal: "'We can - and should - propose and vote on straight repeal, repeatedly,' he said. With victory on the Senate floor unlikely - if not impossible - McConnell said the fight would shift to the committee level. 'Through oversight we'll also keep a spotlight on the various agencies the administration will now use to advance through regulation what it can't through legislation,' he said" (DoBias, 11/4).
NPR reports on Sen.-elect Dan Coats, a Republican from Indiana who is vowing to push repeal of the health overhaul. Coats said: "I think we should throw it out and start over. I think that's the desired way. Clearly, the American people have rejected this. I've, certainly, heard that firsthand through my nine months of campaigning throughout Indiana. We do have issues that need to be addressed in the area of health care, but I think the consensus - strong consensus is that we can do that, starting over with a new bill which will be cost effective but also can address many of the issues that exist out there in health care without a one-size-fits-all-2,000-page bill that no one can seem to piece together to give us a clear path of how this is all going to work and be affordable" (Siegel, 11/4).
MSNBC reports on a statement that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office released on McConnell's comments. "What Senator McConnell is really saying is, Republicans want to let insurance companies go back to denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, let them go back to charging women twice as much for the same coverage as men, and let them push millions of seniors back into the Medicare donut hole. If Republicans think the American people want to go back to giving insurance companies free rein to impose their abusive practices on middle-class families and seniors, then they are truly out of touch with the middle class" (Montanaro, 11/4).
Reuters adds: "Democrats accused Republicans of putting the interests of large corporations ahead of families. 'It speaks volumes that the first thing on Republicans' "to do" list is to give power back to big health insurance companies,' said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. On Wednesday, Obama said he would welcome Republican ideas for improving the healthcare reform, one of the president's biggest accomplishments, but that it would be a mistake to have the fight over again" (Cowan, 11/4).
The Hill: In the meantime, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that the White House doesn't think Obama will have to veto legislation repealing health reform because it won't make it out of both houses of Congress, particularly the Senate. "'I honestly don't think it will come to that,' Gibbs said at his daily briefing on Thursday in response to a question about whether Obama would veto any attempts at repeal" (Youngman, 11/4).
The Hill's Healthwatch Blog: Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, also said any attempt at repeal will hit a wall in the Senate. Harkin, "chairman of both the Senate Health Committee and the Appropriations health subpanel - said proposals to repeal or defund the reforms have little chance getting through the committees he heads. 'Republicans are seriously misreading this election if they claim a mandate to drag us back to the days of out-of-control health care spending and insurance company abuses and discrimination,' Harkin said in a statement. 'Ordinary Americans will not stand for it, and neither will I'" (Lillis, 11/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.