July 23rd, 2009
11:56 AM ET
5 years ago

Democrats intensify drive for health care reform

Representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus are pushing for health care reform this year.
Representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus are pushing for health care reform this year.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Key House Democrats continued to pound home the president's call for health care reform Thursday, hoping to convince a wavering public that change is necessary and to generate sorely needed momentum before the August congressional recess.

Representatives of the Congressional Black Caucus, voicing the concerns of President Barack Obama's liberal political base, predicted that inaction this year would have dire ramifications.

If we "fail to act now, we do so at the peril of the American people," warned Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, at a Capitol Hill news conference.

"The American taxpayer will continue to suffer from the economic consequences of absorbing health care costs that are spiraling out of control. We must act because the quality of life of millions of Americans and the health of our economy really hang in the balance."

Several Black Caucus representatives have insisted the health reform plan as currently drafted is affordable, drawing a sharp contrast with more fiscally conservative Democrats who have voiced cost concerns.

Lee echoed Obama's remarks from a prime time-news conference Tuesday night, in which the president repeatedly emphasized that the spiraling costs of the current system would bankrupt the nation while denying coverage to millions more Americans.

"Even as we rescue this economy from a full-blown crisis, we must rebuild it stronger than before - and health insurance reform is central to that effort," Obama said, adding that failure to control rising health costs would mean inability to control the federal deficit.

"These are the stakes of the debate we're having right now," he said.

The president is slated to take his reform pitch to Ohio Thursday afternoon, touring the Cleveland Clinic - a hospital he has repeatedly praised as a model of high-quality, low-cost care - and hosting a town hall meeting in Shaker Heights.

Bills considered so far by House and Senate committees include Democratic proposals for a government-funded public health insurance option, mandates for people to be insured and employers to provide coverage, and an end to lack of coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

Republicans oppose a government-funded option and any requirement for employers to provide coverage. They also call for limits on medical malpractice lawsuits, which Democrats don't favor, along with a number of provisions contained in the Democratic bills, including increased efficiency in Medicare and Medicaid and a focus on preventive health programs.

Republican opponents of the Democratic plans said Wednesday that most Americans like the current system, which they said must be made less expensive and more accessible.

"What we do think is that we ought to target the problems, and there are ways to do that on a bipartisan basis," argued Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

Obama and Democratic leaders say the problems are deeper and systemic, with spiraling costs that eventually will bankrupt the country and with 12,000 people a day being added to the current figure of 46 million without health insurance.

The president wants both the House and Senate to pass bills before going on their August recess, but that timetable appears unlikely due to the fierce Republican opposition coupled with the cost concerns cited by fiscally conservative Democrats.

A CNN "Poll of Polls" released Wednesday indicated that less than half of Americans now approve of how Obama is handling the issue. It shows 47 percent of Americans approve of how the president is dealing with health care reform, while 44 percent disapprove.

The CNN Poll of Polls is an average of the three most recent national surveys to ask about Obama's performance on health care: USA Today/Gallup (July
17-19); ABC/Washington Post (July 15-18) and CBS News (July 9-12).

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted late last month found 95 percent of those questioned favored at least some reform of the U.S. health care system. But while 55 percent favored "a great deal of reform," 40 percent said the system needs "only some reform."

The poll, conducted June 26-28, had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: Congress • Democrats • Health care
soundoff (158 Responses)
  1. Right Leaning Independent

    Who are the fear mongers now!!! Too late for health care. America has woken up from their 6 month nap and they now understand that Obama and the Dems are bankrupting this company with useless stimulus packages and payoffs to the unions in the form of Automotive bailouts. 12 million illegal aliens will be eligible for health care paid by the American taxpayer once Obama passes his bill to grant legal status to these illegal aliens!!

    July 23, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  2. madmike

    friend of mine got letter from v a about dr appointment critical to his benefit hearing. letter was dated 6-23, letter was mailed 7-20 and was received 7-22, appointment was for 7-14. this is what the government calls helping people. down with obama health care and dont believe scare tactics of socialist.

    July 23, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. tee

    Rep Cantor was asked several times this morning...........how much money are you getting from the healthcare lobbyist..........He would not anwser the question.........did not say he wan't receiving money.......just keep focusing on what wrong with President Obama's plan........Is there any way we could find out, who is receiving money and what amount?

    July 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. Marc

    Karen in Florida – All the places you named rank better than US when it comes to Health care systems. Their systems aren't flawless and yes there are guys and gals that comes from their countries to have their treatments in the US, but unlike what yu said, the road goes both ways! There are Americans that goes to other countries to have medical help and even with the bills of transport, food and hotel bills (among a few ones), IT'S CHEAPER THAN HERE AND AS GOOD AS!!!

    July 23, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. annie s

    The Republicans say most Americans like the current system? Are they honestly that dumb, or are they just lucky so far? Rising premiums, wasteful spending – no problem, that's for the employers to worry about. Denial of services/cancellation of policies – no problem, only people with cancer and other catastrophic diseases have to worry. No insurance at all at any cost – hey, that's what you get for having a pre-existing condition. This is insane already. Thank goodness we have some lawmakers who actually see the problem and want to work to fix it.

    July 23, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  6. Maximus

    He is an example of what a president should do in office. He takes no rest advocating for the welfare of the nation; conceives and achieves plans to satisfy the people's needs; travels the world to establish peace for the nation's safety and security; and calls for the solidarity of all parties to work in the common purpose to elevate America and enhance life quality, unlike many previous lazy presidents who sat all day on their asses abusing their power and authority, golfing and hunting, giving orders, concealing the truth, declaring war, destroying lives, exploiting the poor, oppressing the weak, neglecting the people's needs and ignoring their complaints, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. This is why they abhor Obama, he is everything they are not, they grudge him. He troubles their conscience and makes them feel so bad and guilty; they don't like that.

    July 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. Stop the Hate

    Melissa wrote:
    Here's an idea, let the public know the lies the Republicans are telling by telling them the truth. For every lie about socialized health care that the Republicans tell, the Democrats should tell the truth.

    --------------------------–

    Indeed.

    July 23, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. Don

    Of course the Democrats are intensifying there efforts of health care. They know they can get someone else to pay for it. I still can not figure out why it is so wrong to become a millionaire thru hard work and sound investments yet be criticized for becoming weather. Maybe the answer will be in the next chapter.

    July 23, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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