Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lieberman, Other Lawmakers Express Opposition To Reid's Public Plan

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., says he'll filibuster Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's health care reform bill. Politico reports: "Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid has said the Senate bill will." Lieberman, who explained that Democrats are trying to do too much, said "To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don't think we need it now." Lieberman added that he'd vote against a public option plan "even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line." Other moderate Democrats also expressed skepticism, "but most of the wavering Democratic senators did not go as far as Lieberman Tuesday, saying they were waiting to see the details. Lieberman did say he's 'strongly inclined' to vote to proceed to the debate, but that he'll ultimately vote to block a floor vote on the bill if it isn't changed first" (Raju, 10/27).

CNN reports: "The announcement means that even if Reid is able to get a measure introducing a public option that allows states to opt out onto the Senate floor for debate, Lieberman - who caucuses with the Democrats - won't provide a crucial vote needed to get it off the floor and up for a final vote. ... He also rejected the idea of a "trigger" option that would allow for the launch of a new public option if the insurance industry failed to meet certain coverage benchmarks" (Bash, 10/27).

ABC News reports that Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., also said she will oppose a public option: "Lincoln has said she is against a government-run insurance option and voted for a proposal before the Senate Finance Committee that did not include one. Lincoln is among a few moderate Democrats in the Senate whose support is viewed as key to the health care overhaul. She didn't specifically say she'd vote against Reid's proposal, but she said she'd prefer a program that would include insurance offered by a nonprofit group instead of the government" (DeMillo, 10/27).

The Associated Press reports that Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe would also vote to block Reid's health care bill: "Snowe is the only Republican in Congress who has voted for any of the early Democratic versions in either the Senate or House. ... Inclusion of a government insurance plan in Senate health care legislation is posing problems for moderate senators whose votes are critical to passing the bill. Reverberations could be felt across the Capitol, where House Democratic leaders are finalizing a bill with a government plan. ... Meanwhile, Maine Republican Susan Collins, who had earlier indicated interest in trying to pass a bipartisan bill this year, issued a statement underscoring her opposition to 'a taxpayer-subsidized, government-run health insurance company'" (Espo, 10/27).

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports on a position taken outside the beltway. "California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a letter to congressional leaders Tuesday, urged lawmakers to pass a health-care reform package by the end of the year, while saying he opposed some elements of the current proposal. Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican who in 2007 pushed for a health-care overhaul in California that was killed in the legislature, said the state currently can't afford to fund its Medicaid program and added that implementing mandatory expansions to the program will worsen California's fiscal woes" (Woo, 10/27).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations.