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Party of “No”? December 13, 2009

Posted by Ken in Health Care, Politics.
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A friend on Twitter (OK, it may be a one-sided friendship, but still…) recently commented on a Charles Krauthammer piece I linked to on Twitter regarding health care reforms different from the House and Senate bills the Democrats are currently support. I quote:

@n2vip I like the sound of these Republican #HCR solutions, but BS meter wonders why they never pushed them through when they ran Congress.

Well, there are a few things wrong here, but I understand the sentiment, let me walk through them one by one.

First off, I’m glad the responder sees merit in the proposals outlined by Mr. Krauthammer, I too see merit in them, but first and foremost, Mr. Krauthammer is not, never has been, nor likely will he ever be a member of Congress, though there are various members of Congress that are supporting each of the measures as outlined by Mr. Krauthammer.

Second, while it’s fun to think that a “simple majority” can run the table and push through any legislation they want, the simple truth is that without a “super majority” the majority party needs to garner the support of a few minority party members if it hopes to avoid a filibuster.  When Republicans “ran” Congress they needed Democrat’s support to pass legislation. While Republicans “ran” Congress they did manage to push through Health Insurance Portablility and Protection Act in 1996, which was designed to protect the rights of the insured when the change or lose their jobs, as well as the original Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act health benefit provisions in 1986, allowing workers to maintain their health care coverage when they change or lose their jobs. And let’s not forget State Children’s Health Insurance Program passed in 1997 – again, during the time when Republicans “ran” Congress. To accuse Republicans of sitting idly by is simply false, without benefit of a super majority and the ability to ram through anything they wanted, some reasonable advances were made in advance of our “discovery” in this last Presidential Election of a looming health care crisis.

Dare I also mention MEDICARE Part D, enacted in 2006, which provided a 75% discount on the first $2,510 of covered prescriptions, then, after journeying through the so-called “donut hole” (coverage gap) and paying 100% of prescription costs, once they reach $4,050 in out-of-pocket expenses they save 95% on covered prescriptions? You may hate the “donut hole,” but the simple fact is that it provided real, multi-thousand dollar savings on prescription drugs to hundreds of thousands of retirees since enacted.

And speaking of the last Presidential Election, the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain, was actively supporting the idea of taxing health care benefits (as described in the Krauthammer piece), putting him at odds with labor unions. Same with Tort Reform – Sen. McCain has been a supporter of Tort Reform since his 2000 Presidential Election (then mainly around product liability, in 2008 it was around medical liability), as well as interstate health  insurance sales. Seems that during the election, while many poo-poo’d Sen. McCain for his not using email or the Internet (despite having good reason), they overlooked a candidate who was offering real, substantial ideas for healthcare reform.

Party of “No”? Hardly.

Now then, for the last two years, the Democrats had a majority in the House and Senate, and now they have super majorities in both and what have they done, mainly sat on their hands and waited for a Democratic President, rather than provide Americans real relief in their time of need. Honestly, why didn’t then-Senator Obama take some of his campaign ideas and try to actually implement them while a Senator? He could have demonstrated exactly what he wanted to do for America and how he planed on helping Americans. I can only assume it is either because he didn’t want to give credit to the outgoing Republican Administration OR he was too busy assembling the stupefying three-quarters of a billion dollars campaign war chest

Cartoon of GOP approaching a mockiing, dis-interested White House

So, your BS meter aside, the Republicans have been pushing for the above reforms for at least the last two years on the Presidential Campaign Trail, and in the halls of Congress today, but the Democrats are too busy calling them the Party of “no”, and the President seems to be ignoring their input as he repeatedly meets only with Democrats to discuss passing Health Care Reform as a political imperative.

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