Democratic and Republican lawmakers will offer their constituents very different takes on pending health care legislation during the August recess. Democrats will say the bills will “hold insurance companies accountable” and guarantee lower costs and more choice, while the Republicans will warn against a government takeover that will undermine competition and drive up costs.
An agreement between the House leadership and conservative Democrats sparked protests from states worried about higher Medicaid costs and liberals upset about the paring back of subsidies.
After weeks of painstaking talks, Democrats celebrated breakthroughs on health care overhaul on both sides of the Capitol. Yet many lawmakers and health care experts said that yesterday’s events marked only one step on the very bumpy road to a final deal that President Barack Obama might sign into law.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Wednesday that a preliminary Congressional Budget Office score of his panel’s draft health care overhaul package would cost under $900 billion over the next decade and provide health coverage to 95 percent of uninsured Americans.
As efforts continue to trim the cost of health reform, some lawmakers and patient groups are worried that the resulting insurance benefits will be less generous and affordable than they had hoped. Fiscal conservatives counter that Congress needs to be realistic about what the country can afford.
Rep. Mike Ross grew up in tiny Prescott, Ark., and knows well the problems of many residents who can’t afford health care insurance and have trouble getting access to hospitals and doctors. Yet Ross, a leader of the Blue Dog Democrats, stands ready to try to block passage of a health care reform bill in the House that might help his constituents; he complains the bill doesn’t adequately contain costs or help rural areas enough.
A leader of the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative House Democrats says he and six others in the group would vote together to block the health overhaul bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee unless changes were made to slow the rate of growth of federal health care spending, a concern raised by CBO Director Elmendorf yesterday.
A leader of the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative House Democrats said today that he and six others in the group will vote together to block health care legislation in committee unless changes are made to slow the rate of growth of federal health care spending and to ensure that rural hospitals are adequately reimbursed for treating new patients under the legislation.
House Democratic leaders are preparing to unveil a sweeping health overhaul plan that will set the stage for a fight over the most contentious issues. The bill embraces liberal principles even as moderates and conservatives in both parties argue for changes in areas such as taxation and the role of the government in providing insurance.
Hospital officials today agreed to federal-payment cuts to help pay for a health care overhaul. They hope their concessions will build good will with the Obama administration and Democratic lawmakers. They’re pressing for action on a host of other issues, including Medicaid reimbursements and funding for graduate medical education.
As President Obama tries to sell the middle class on health reform, Congress is considering proposals that would affect how individuals benefit. Lower-income people would benefit most in the near term from insurance subsidies. But Obama is emphasizing measures he says would help the middle class by reining in the rising cost of health care and insurance over the long term.
Democrats in Congress, surprised by the high cost estimates for their health care proposals, are looking at a wide range of options for raising money and reducing costs. Some of the revenue raisers have been rejected in previous years, but now all ideas are on the table because of the big amounts needed to pay for a health care overhaul.
The Congressional Budget Office took center stage this week when its assessment of a health overhaul plan fueled criticism of its cost. Little known outside of Washington, the CBO is an arbiter of the cost and impact of legislation — meaning it will continue to play a critical role in the health reform debate. Senate Finance Committee Democrats, meanwhile, vow to re-tool their as-yet-unreleased proposal to make it less costly.
A new analysis of a major Senate health reform bill reports it would cost the government $1 trillion but reduce the number of uninsured by a net of only 16 million. The estimates by the Congressional Budget Office provided Republican critics with fresh ammunition on a day when President Obama was defending his plan before a national audience of doctors.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and other Democrats are pursuing a dozen GOP senators they think may vote for a health reform deal. To round up as many as 70 votes for a bipartisan majority, Baucus signaled a willingness to compromise on a key feature sought by President Obama and other Democrats: a government-run insurance plan as consumer option.
President Obama is promising fiscal conservatives in Congress that health reform won’t be financed by deficit spending. He needs the support of moderate and conservative Democrats who are wary of a vast expansion of government-underwritten health care. Strict new budget rules may help persuade skeptics that a health care system overhaul is affordable.
House and Senate Democrats are gearing up for what could be a crucial, month-long drive to craft health care legislation before the July 4 recess.