“Top Line” – Insurance Reform Band Aid May Take Place of Obama’s Intended Healthcare Resolutions

Aug 13, 2009 3:27pm

ABC News’ Kim Berryman reports: As American’s perceptions of ideal healthcare reform continue to be erased and redrawn with each local debate, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon emerged from the trenches to give ABC’s Top Line a clearer picture.

 “I personally don’t believe that comprehensive healthcare reform right now is on a path to passage” McMahon said despite working with some of the stakeholders who support reform. 

More realistically, he says Americans will end up with something much different than the President had hoped to deliver.

“I think there’s something that’s going to be passed because the democrats want it and President Obama needs it. It may look more like insurance reform to the liberals who want the public plan but to most of America it’s going to look like a pretty good package.” 

Healthcare is nothing new to the long time strategist. McMahon began his career as a Senate and political staffer for Senator Edward Kennedy, a long time proponent of health care reform and has since worked for many top Democratic campaigns.

McMahon predicts that a majority of those who will like the final bill are the 85% of people who already have health coverage. 

“Most people have it, they’re happy with it, they’re not that concerned about the 15% that don’t…they’re all wondering ‘what’s in this for me?’ and the truth is there’s a lot in there for them.” he explained. 

 Though 15% may seem like a low percentage, in reality that number makes up more than 45 million uninsured citizens, many of whom are voicing their frustrations at televised town hall events.

Congressmen and women like David Scott (D-GA) , Arlen Specter (D-Pa) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) are spending August at town hall meetings in their home districts. These representatives and others who have been at the center of very vocal community gatherings “don’t like it when their constituents are angry at them and they certainly don’t like being yelled at. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens when they come back” to Washington McMahon said.
On Tuesday, President Obama addressed the uninsured at a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“For all this chatter and the yelling and the shouting and the noise, what you need to know is this: If you don’t have health insurance, you will finally have quality, affordable options once we pass reform” he said.

Despite his reassurances, the President’s final signature may grace the pages of something far different than ideal healthcare reform.  The lessons learned during  August recess will no doubt impact the already battered bill as the prospect of a public option proves to be a sore spot for many.

“The republicans beat it up and probably the democrats, the liberals will beat it back because if they won’t settle for anything less than the full loaf then I think it’s going to be difficult for them to get the full loaf in the current form… it may be that the tide turns and that these members of congress come back reenergized and recommitted to the more liberal approach in the House of Representatives. My suspicion is though it’s going to be just the opposite.”

To see the full interview with Steve McMahon click HERE.

Lynn Sweet, a columnist for PoliticsDaily.com and Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun Times also stopped by the studio today.  Sweet discussed President Obama’s response to her question about the arrest of professor Henry Luis Gates Jr. last month saying “most of us just don’t use that language in polite company, much less the President. And it wasn’t a matter of whether or not you use [the word stupidly] as an adverb.”

Click HERE to see the rest of Sweet’s discussion with David Kerley and Jan Crawford Greenberg on ABC’s Top Line.


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