Healthcare Reform - Will It Pass by the Christmas Deadline?

December 18, 2009

The most recent Rasmussen poll found that 40% of voters approve of the healthcare reform bill, while 56% disapprove of it. If this is the case, then why is the Senate working so hard to pass it by Christmas?

The most recent Rasmussen poll found that 40% of voters approve of the healthcare reform bill, while 56% disapprove of it. If this is the case, then why is the Senate working so hard to pass it by Christmas? One would think when the majority of voters disapprove of legislation that will affect 1/6 of the US economy, Congress would stop and evaluate why this is happening. Is the Senate pushing so hard for its passage for historical reasons, for political gains, or because Democrats might not get the opportunity to implement healthcare reform in the format they want for a very long time?

It is obvious that changes need to be made to the healthcare system, but at what cost? Last week, Reuters conducted a public opinion poll of 2,999 households and concluded that the public is “skeptical about the cost, quality and accessibility of medical care.” However, the majority of those surveyed (about 60%) support having a public option as part of healthcare reform. The problem we are facing is that everyone has different ideas on how to solve the rising cost of healthcare. No comprise can be struck, so the Democrats are fighting amongst each other to reach the filibuster-proof 60 votes to pass the bill.

Disagreement among democrats

Earlier this week, Senator Joe Liebermann (CT-I) expressed his opposition to expanding Medicare which would begin coverage at age 55 years. Lieberman’s concern stems from his belief that the expansion “reportedly has some of the same infirmities that the public option did;” something he has been against. As a result of his opposition, the measure was removed in order to secure his needed vote much to the chagrined of his colleagues.

Now Ben Nelson (D-NE) has taken center-stage with his staunch opposition to a bill that includes a provision where public funds can be used to pay for abortion procedures. Nelson worked with Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to come up with “amendment to impose tighter regulations on abortion coverage,” but it was voted down 54-45. As of today, Nelson has yet to decide how he will vote, but it’s very obvious just how much control he holds in whether the bill will pass.

Where is tort reform?

Tort reform has been discussed and debated on regularly and is something that many healthcare professionals believe would assist in decreasing medical costs. However, it has largely been ignored by Congress. What’s so interesting about tort reform is that there have been some Democrats who’ve acknowledged that “the party was reluctant to cross trial lawyers because they contribute so heavily to Democratic candidates.” Is this really true? If so, is this “politics as usual?”

President Obama has given the Senate until Christmas to pass the healthcare bill, but over the last week some heated exchanges have broken out leading some Democrats to say they would rather the Senate kill the bill and start over. One of the most vocal people has been former governor Howard Dean who expressed his angst about the removal of the Medicare expansion program and believes that there is too much emphasis on pleasing interest groups and insurance companies.

Now all we can do is sit and wait to see what happens.