Senate Health Care Debate Stalls as Republicans Invoke Delay Tactics

Democrats Divided over Health Care

Dean, a former presidential candidate, sent shockwaves when he said Tuesday in an interview with Vermont Public Radio that the removal of the Medicare buy-in means Democrats should just kill the health care bill and start over.

"This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate," Dean said. "Honestly, the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill."

The former Democratic presidential candidate argued today on "GMA" that in the rush to pass a health care bill, lawmakers have essentially stripped it of true reforms -- mainly the choices it would give to people -- and given too much to special interest groups and insurance companies, the chief executives of which, Dean says, would get 27 percent of the money Americans contribute.

"We've gotten to this stage ... in Washington where passing any bill is a victory, and that's the problem," Dean said. "Decisions are being about the long-term future of this country for short-term political reasons, and that's never a good sign."

He said he also doesn't see cost-control measures but, rather "a whole bunch of bureaucracies and a lot of promises," and while there are some good elements in the current health care bill, "at this point, the bill does more harm than good."

The former Vermont governor said he would suggest using money allocated for community health centers and wellness and prevention programs to help people buy insurance and that less power be transferred into the hands of the private insurance companies.

Dean, who said he believes the bill will pass the Senate, initially supported health care legislation.

"I've been involved in this all along. I put up with a lot of stuff I didn't like because I thought at the end of the day what was good about the bill outweighed what's bad about the bill," Dean said. "I don't believe that anymore."

Several Democratic leaders who had been on the fence about the Senate health care bill expressed their support Tuesday after meeting with the president.

"I disagree with Howard Dean," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Tuesday in an interview with ABC News. "Howard Dean is a medical doctor. He has to know what it will mean when 30 million Americans are finally going to have health insurance, that peace of mind and protection for the first time in their lives. For many of them, that is a dramatic step forward."

Senate Democratic leaders argue that even without the option of expanding Medicare or providing government-run insurance to compete with the private sector, the bill will still cover millions of uninsured Americans and is worth passing.

"The president and vice president pointed out that you take your victories when you can and nothing prevents you from fighting on for the things you believe should have been achieved," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said Tuesday after the meeting at the White House. "But why spurn a victory in hand?"

Others say this health care bill will only be the start of more overhaul in the future.

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