August 23rd, 2009
02:56 PM ET
5 years ago

Dem: On health care, 'we need to make haste - slowly'


WASHINGTON (CNN) – After a week where the White House spent much of its time trying to mollify the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party, a member of the House Progressive Caucus praised the president’s efforts on health care reform while suggesting that leaders in Washington were not doing enough to answer the American public’s questions about the massive overhaul.

“The president is not doing anything wrong,” Missouri Democrat Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “in fact, he should be praised for being audacious enough to bring this contentious issue to the public. And I think he has done a yeoman’s job in trying to articulate what this health care bill will do,”

That said, Cleaver said he thought Obama had underestimated the partisanship at play in the health care reform debate.

“I think that there is the possibility that the president can work with some Republicans,” Cleaver added, “and I think that he works with the ones who are interested in trying to get something accomplished.”

As for all of the anger, confusion, and anxiety over health care reform on display during many of the congressional town halls held in recent weeks, Cleaver said the public has some valid questions about reform.

“I think we need to make haste – slowly,” he said when asked about Sen. Joe Lieberman’s suggestion that the president put off trying to achieve near-universal coverage for all Americans. “By that I mean, we need to go back, erase some of the vagueness – or fill in the blanks where there is vagueness – and then begin the process of moving so that the American public understands that we’re not going to abandon them because of this outrage that we’ve heard in August. But, we do it slow enough that we can bring them along.”

Cleaver said how the hefty price tag for reform – estimated at nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years – would be paid for is a legitimate concern that many citizens have expressed in recent weeks.

Weighing in on an issue that exposed a fissure within his own party in the last week, the Missouri Democrat also said “if we take the public option off the table, we don’t have health care reform.”

But Cleaver also seemed to leave open the possibility that some, more progressive House Democrats might accept something short of inclusion of a public health insurance option in the final bill. Among the ideas being discussed are non-profit health insurance cooperatives that are likely to be included in the version of reform legislation being worked on by a bipartisan group of negotiators in the Senate Finance Committee.

“I don’t think the Progressive Caucus . . . will ever accept a health care plan that does not deal with the lack of competition between the health care companies,” Cleaver told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. T'SAH from Virginia

    If President Obama SLOWS DOWN, the whole Health Care Reform bill is going to SLOW DOWN...

    President Obama needs to keep the same paste because that is the only way this bill is going to get pass....

    Come on now – this health reform has been going on for almost a thousand years...... WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR???

    YOU slow down and everyone else with you that need to be on a SNAIL RIDE – President Obama will pick you up on the 100th LAP!!!

    Jeez!!!

    August 23, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. J.C.

    Non-profit co-ops are no substitute for the Public Plan. If we want to lower costs, a Public option is a must. Otherwise, we will have only health insurance reform, not health care reform. There will be as many uninsured two years from now if not more.

    August 23, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Haste-makes-Waste

    Health care reform must be done slow and by steps...!

    With all the rhetoric afloat...doe anyone know the true facts in the health
    care system...?

    FIRST: the federal government should issue a Questionaire on the issue to be send out to ervery household across the country via the US-Postal
    Service and ask the questions to have the facts from the people before the reform is
    done for political reasons.

    Second: Set-up a panel of Auditors, Medical Professional and Administrative Professionals to get the facts within the current systems health care system.

    GET THE FACTS AND ONLY THEN CAN YOU ACT KNOWING WHERE THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 23, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. J.C.

    The simplest question to ask is how many people are uninsured in Washington/North Idaho area, where Group Health, a co-op operates. If an co-op can be the substitute for the public plan, everyone should have been covered in that region.

    August 23, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Rita OHIO

    Thank you Senator Cleaver for a straight answer. It seems more and more impossible to extract an honest answer from most politicians these days.

    We need health care reform. Both in delivery and regulation of the insurance industry.

    August 23, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. annie s

    Senator Lieberman is not a democrat and not particularly interested in helping the American people. Please let's not take his advice on anything.

    August 23, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Ted

    I am OK with fixing healthcare slowly and deliberately, but it has to be done. I am tired of the GOP saying nothing needs to be done. If you took their federally provided healthcare away and subjected them to copays and arguing with medical providers to cover costs, then the healthcare system would be fixed fast.

    It has to be fixed. No two ways about it.

    August 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. Al

    Maybe he can explain to the white population how we can keep the insurance we now have and like. If the black population that has insurance and wants to keep it, they can listen in as well. Otherwise, he can talk all he wants, most of us will not listen until they answer the most critical question.

    August 23, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. S M R

    I think there is just to many BIG WORDS for the 8th GRADE EDUCATED GOP to understand.

    August 23, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  10. Mike Dallas

    Yes the progressive in the House has stated they will not vote for any bill if there is no public option.

    I support this stance, since it would please the traitorous repubs. It would maintain the status quo, the fascist repubs want

    That would give the Dems something to campaign on in 2010 and 2012, just show the screaming "faux anger" mobs carrying AK-47 rifles to town hall meetings with a byline:

    "This is all the republicans had to offer for health care reform."

    August 23, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Austin

    Rep. Cleaver seems to be confusing his vocabulary words.

    August 23, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  12. D. Tree

    At this point its clear the GOP has not interest in making any compromises – they want health care to fail for political reasons.

    If we don't reform health insurance now, it will consume 1/3 of our GDP in ten years. We will never be able to fix the deficit if we do not pass this reform.

    Its time we passed this reform with a simple majority using the reconciliation process – just like the GOP used it several times during the Bush & Cheney years.

    August 23, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. howie

    I know I am hard to reach sometime, but I really find it difficult what message this guy is sending.

    August 23, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  14. AJ

    I'm not a big Cleaver fan but when he's right, he's right. Obama needs to be more concerned about getting it right than making sure he's the President that gets healthcare reform. There's plenty of time for legacy, he need to make sure and serve the people well. Bad healthcare reform is worse than no healthcare reform

    August 23, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Gus

    I'd never heard of Emanuel Cleaver before, but he seems honest and reasonable. It's a pleasure to read stuff like that, though I doubt many people will bother since nobody said anything stupid or outrageous in it.

    August 23, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. andrea

    There will be no true reform unless we get the private insurers out of the health field. Their loyalty is to their shareholders and not to the patients or the nation.
    It took two failed wars and an economic debacle to get president Obama elected and we won't have what we need; a 100% public National Health System, until 100 million Americans are without medical coverage and the country is on the verge of ruin. There is just too much ignorance in this country.

    August 23, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. champly

    And we have to keep reminding ourselves that the "Progressives" as they like to call themselves have a political philosophy very close to that exhibited by Generalissimo Castro in Cuba. Medical decisions in Cuba are totally in the hands ot the "party" and enforced at the end of a gun barrell. That is what Obama wants.

    Mr. Obama lies when he says we will be able to "keep" our current medical plan (how gracious of him to let us "keep" them). THE BILLS (all four) provide that once you leave your plan you MUST submit to Federal control of your medical care and you are never allowed to leave for the rest of your life. That is a fact.

    August 23, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. Grace

    When Cleaver says that there is the possibility that the president can work with some Republicans-the ones who are interested-he is ignoring the fact that Nancy Pelosi and most liberals ARE NOT INTERESTED IN WORKING WITH REPUBLICANS; it is the public option or no health care reform at all. If Obama does not try to have bipartisonship, which can only come about by dropping the public option, then it is the Democrat's own fault if health reform does not happen, and it will show that Obama is really Nancy Pelosi's puppet when he ran for President as a centrist.

    August 23, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. champly

    Mr. Obama tells us that illegal aliens will not be covered under "this" plan. What he doesn't go on to say is that they are ALREADY covered by Federal mandate and will CONTINUE to be covered, fully, just not under "this" plan.

    Who is being dishonest ? Those who want to continue to make their own health care decisions, or Mr. Obama who is obviously not being honest with us.

    August 23, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  20. Jay T.

    How about I start it right now:

    We need a single-payer system because insurance companies are run by swine who only want your money, it is more efficient, it creates quite a nice social backstop so no one has to ever worry about a loved one (or themselves) going without health care when they need it, it is far less expensive than our currrent system, and, most importantly, it works for the most people.

    August 23, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Howard

    Cleaver is right. Part of the backlash is due to the perception that Pres Obama was trying to rush this through Congress before their summer break. The second reason is that their has been little detail revealed (having 3 different plans in Congress does not help). I am still waiting to see what this "fair" cost is going to be for the "typical" 25-30 year old, or "typical' family of four, I think too many people think this is going to be "free" for these 43 million un-insured and that is not they case.

    Many people keep saying that they want the plan that our Congressmen/Senator's have, has anyone seen how much they pay for it. BTW, Pres Obama did admit that while he was a Senator, his wife rejected the federal plan and put their family on the private plan where they worked.

    August 23, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. Deuce

    At the moment Obama is making "Waste."

    August 23, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. eolufemi

    Wise man. I'm glad they aren't giving up just because a couple kooks tried to shout down health care reform.

    I want a national health exchange like they got in congress.

    August 23, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  24. Larry

    haste makes waste.
    We've seen that already too many times this year and last year.

    August 23, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Susan

    I'm scared to death. I just lost my health inusrance and I have a few medical problems. Now I'll probably lose the equity I have in my home and still will probably have to declare bankruptcy. I'm in a no win situation with no releif in sight. This is America?

    August 23, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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