Here are some of the latest headlines from across the country:
Lieberman says other centrist Dems share his concerns on Baucus Bill
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is not the only Democrat to harbor major reservations about the health bill to pass a key Senate committee, the senator said Wednesday.
Lieberman reiterated his claim that he could not support the bill to have passed the Senate Finance Committee yesterday with backing of all the panel's Democrats, but hinted that other centrist Democrats beyond the committee may also oppose th plan.
"I don't think I'm alone," Lieberman said during an interview on Fox News. "I think there are other moderate Democrats who have a lot of questions about the bill."
Senate Dems stealing $247 billion from your children to pay for Obamacare
According to the Associated Press, at the direction of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senate Democrats are plotting to pass a bill, by as early as next week, that grants doctors a $247 billion increase in Medicare fees over a decade.
This will not doubt add to the deficit. Why are the Democrats so intent on spending $247 billion in one week? To pave the way for the White House to claim that Obamacare is deficit neutral.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democratic Leadership are meeting, as you read this, behind closed doors with White House staff .
They are trying to cut and paste the complex provisions of the Senate Finance Committee health bill (the Baucus Bill) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions bill ( the Kennedy-Dodd bill).
They want to produce an overhaul of one sixth of the economy under federal control that is somehow coherent and yet not add “one dime,” as President solemnly promised, to the deficit.
Senator zings White House on insurance exchanges
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) took a jab at the White House today, questioning their commitment to providing consumers with more choices under healthcare reform legislation.
In taking a shot at White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, the senator urged Democratic leaders to include in a final version in healthcare reform his amendment to expand access to insurance exchanges.
"Robert Gibbs talks about choice and competition about three times per hour and then we have a bill that leaves 90% of Americans outside the exchange market after seven years," Wyden said today on ABC's "Top Line."
No quiet fadeaway for federal insurance option
Fears about high costs of the health care overhaul and mistrust of insurers are rekindling interest in letting the government sell health insurance as part of the plan.
The leading congressional proposal as of Wednesday — a Senate Finance bill that relies on private coverage with no new government plan — could price out some 17 million Americans.
And the insurance industry may have unwittingly helped the case for public coverage with a report over the weekend asserting the Finance bill would raise premiums for everyone.
Business groups and conservatives remain steadfastly opposed to government insurance — formidable political opposition that shows no sign of weakening. So advocates are getting creative, trying to reformulate the "public option" in a way that can gain the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.
Senate, administration begin healthcare endgame as Dem leaders express unity
The three Democratic senators charged with finding a final healthcare bill met with senior advisers from the White House on Wednesday as leaders expressed unity on an issue that has divided the party.
The group will have to meld a centrist, deficit-reducing healthcare bill that leaves liberals cold with a left-leaning measure that causes anxiety among more conservative Democrats.
The obstacles were clearly visible on the day of the first official meeting.
Congress’ secret plan to pass Obamacare – Pushed to Plan
Leaders in the House and Senate have a secret plan to pass President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care plan without a conference and without any participation by the American people … but that plan that has been pushed to Plan B.
The primary plan is to use a secretive conference committee procedure to pass Obamacare by the end of the year.
Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee passed the outline of a bill, The Vapor Bill, out of committee on a party line vote with the lone crossover Republican support of Sen.
Olympia Snowe (R-ME) on a 14-9 vote. AP is reporting that Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) wants to commence debate the last week of October on his version of health care reform.
GOP moderate slams Baucus Bill but won’t rule out vote
A Republican senator known for her independent streak slammed a health care bill passed by a key committee Tuesday but left open the possibility of voting for a sweeping overhaul this year.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who broke ranks with her party this year to support President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package, said Wednesday the status quo is unacceptable and she shares the goal of passing responsible health care legislation to expand coverage and curb costs.
Harry Reid and the chamber of secrets
“My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government…Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” Or so President Obama says on the White House website. But does he mean it? Of course not.
President Obama is leading the most secretive and least transparent administration in legislative history. And today, we have more proof. The video above was taken as Senate and White House leadership met behind closed doors to cobble together a bill that will make yesterday’s Finance Committee vote irrelevant.
There around the cozy table are White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, OMB Director Peter Orzag, Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Max Baucus (D-MT), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and a few other liberal Senators.
They will negotiate the final bill that the Senate will vote on. And they’re doing it all behind closed doors, so you can’t see it. Is this an “unprecedented level of openness?”
Blue Cross group blasts reform bill
Premiums will rise up to 50 percent for individual policies and 19 percent for small group plans if healthcare reform passes, a new report released by a major health industry trade group claims.
Sponsored by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and conducted by Oliver Wyman Inc., the report faults reform legislation for lacking a strong individual mandate. Requiring healthy Americans to purchase reform would help offset costs for the millions of people with health problems who would purchase insurance policies under the new system, the study finds.
"Requiring insurers to guarantee issue coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions — without an effective mandate — means that people can wait to purchase coverage until they need it, causing premiums to increase for most new purchasers," the report claims.
The new study comes just days after a similar report from America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), which said premiums would rise up to $4,000 more than if no legislation were passed.
Unions say public plan is needed
Labor groups criticized the Senate Finance Committee's health-care plan Wednesday as "deeply flawed" for its lack of a government-run option and its tax on expensive health-insurance plans.
In ads in major newspapers, unions said a government-run plan is needed to provide competition for big insurers and keep costs down. The unions oppose taxing health-care benefits because they fear the expense will be passed on to members who have forgone higher wages in return for richer health-care packages.
"Unless the bill that goes to the floor of the U.S. Senate makes substantial progress to address the concerns of working men and women, we will oppose it," said an ad that appeared in the Washington Post and Capitol Hill newspapers.
Hope for GOP votes on health care
A few House Republicans are leaving the door open to backing health care reform bill when it comes to a final vote.
Even though they oppose the current House version of the bill, Republican Reps. Mike Castle, Jo Ann Emerson and Shelley Moore Capito all told POLITICO in the last week that they are leaving the door open to voting for a more moderate House-Senate compromise bill.
“I am withholding judgment on what could come out of the Senate,” said Castle, who is running for the Delaware Senate seat once occupied by Vice President Joe Biden. “There are just a lot of unanswered questions that give me pause.”
If the bill's backers succeed in boosting its popularity in the coming weeks, House Republicans in competitive races could face pressure from home to get on board.
Democrats launch attack on insurer exemption
The long-simmering tension between insurers and congressional Democrats is erupting into open warfare, with lawmakers stepping up their push to revoke a key federal protection for the insurance industry.
“The health insurance’s antitrust exemption is one of the worst accidents of American history," Schumer said. "It deserves a lot of the blame for the huge rise in premiums that has made health insurance so unaffordable. It is time to end this special status and bring true competition to the health insurance industry."
Where do you stand on the health care debate? Let me know your thoughts. I’ll share your opinions on the blog.
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