October 24th, 2009
06:00 AM ET
5 years ago

GOP hits Obama on health care transparency and cost


WASHINGTON (CNN) – In the weekly Republican radio and internet address, Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns criticized the Obama administration for a lack of transparency in the health care debate.

"President Obama has promised open deliberations in front of C-SPAN cameras for all Americans to learn how reform will impact them. However, a 1,500 page bill, full of carve-outs and backroom deals, is currently being brokered behind closed doors," Johanns said.

"We're about to significantly alter one-sixth of our economy-now is not the time to shut Americans out," He added.

Senate Democratic leaders met Thursday night with White House officials to consider including a government-funded public health insurance option, along with a provision allowing states to opt out of it, in a health care overhaul bill.

Two senior Democratic Senate sources told CNN Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is leaning toward a public option with the state opt-out provision in the Senate health care bill that will reach the full chamber in coming weeks.

Johanns also questioned the need for the health care legislation if costs remain so high that the majority of Americans can't afford it.

"True health care reform should decrease what you're paying, and make it easier for you to receive care," Johanns said.

"The bottom line is this: we're nearing 10 percent unemployment. We have a record budget deficit, and many families are working hard just to put food on the table and to pay the bills. Yet, there's no doubt about it: these proposals will negatively impact pocketbooks and paychecks across America," Johanns said.

Also on Thursday, thirty-six moderate House Democrats threatened to vote against the current health care bill the chamber's leaders are drafting because they don't believe it will sufficiently reduce long-term health care costs.

–CNN's Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this story.


Filed under: GOP weekly address • Health care
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. A concerned veteran

    Ok. This may be a stupid question, but I have to ask it just the same. Why would you need to have a secret discussion about health care reform. Wouldn't an open debate be better for the American public? I can understand closed door meetings for items that hit our national security, but not this. Unless of course there is concern of what the voters will think about some of the special items entered in to the bill.

    October 24, 2009 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  2. independent Jim

    Doesn't matter if it's Dems or Republicans in charge – no transparency actually occurs until we get real election reform.

    why should I be able to make a contribution to a Congressman or Senator in another state that I can't even vote for? Why can PACs make contributions at all? Why don't these questionable practices violate the "one man, one vote" concept? Do we need term limits?

    The answer is that the current system gets incumbents re-elected, and they begin to favor the groups with that same goal – which is not the same as acting in the best interests of their constituents.

    October 24, 2009 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  3. ender

    36 moderate democrats will vote against this even though polls show their constituants are FOR a public option.

    On one hand we have the republicans who wish little more than war. And the democrats who seem hesitant to do anything worthwhile.

    I'm seriously considering jumping ship before this boat sinks

    October 24, 2009 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  4. Nick

    Just more GOP BS! They will say anything and do anything to protect the huge unjustifiable profits of insurance companies no matter who is hurt. The only thing important to the GOP is those huge contribuition for "Republican causes" – not a thing more!

    October 24, 2009 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  5. Marwan

    Before any of you Liberals who warship Obama blindly respond by blasting the republicans, answer this question, How come Obama did not keep the promised that he made back in August 2008 by broadcasting the health care debate on C-SPAN??

    I know the answer, do you?

    October 24, 2009 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  6. Carole

    GOP Budget for Health Care = $0.00

    GOP Budget for WAR = $10,000,000,000 (Trillion)

    GOP Transparency under Dubya = Secret meetings from the public

    October 24, 2009 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  7. Maria - Proud Democrat

    It is very disappointing to see that President Obama didn't keep his promise to broadcast the health care discussions on CSPAN.

    He's turning out to be just like every other politician........self-promoting and unreliable.

    I thought he was going to be different?

    October 24, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  8. A guy

    Whine, whine, whine, whine.....how soon they forget about the back door deals, and closed door policies they espoused for 8 long years while their incompetent chief executive squandered a budget surplus and almost drove the country into a depression.

    Republicans need to think long and hard about their rapidly increasing irrelevance and start putting some ideas on the table instead of just moaning and groaning about the ideas that Democrats are putting on the table.

    October 24, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  9. Lynda

    Well GOP come up with some real ideas on Health Care instead of opposing everything.......thats why your not invited to sit in any more, all you do is complain...

    October 24, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  10. don longbottom

    Johanns...what a joke. The Senator from Nebraska has less than zero interest in health care and would not vote for the very kind of program he has just mentioned. Hagel....Johanns: what a loss for Nebraska and the country.

    October 24, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  11. brad

    A Republican complaining of "back door" policies!!!! How ironic.

    October 24, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  12. charlie in Maine

    Speaking of open how much money do the members of either party get from the big insurance companies? That is what is slowing down healthcare.

    October 24, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. Anthony from Miami

    Transparency isn't something you complain about after you had years to do everything in the dark. Funny thing, it always comes to light. I think this is the most in recent times that the American people have been involved in politics in my adult life. More people asking more questions. More people voicing their opinions. More people waiting to actually hold politicians accountable. Maybe that's the transparency that he's afraid of. The plan: Throw rocks and hide the hands that through them. Don't worry congressman, the doors don't need to be open to know that no matter what's said behind closed doors or in the hall or in the media, you have one answer: NO!

    October 24, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  14. Helene

    There is no doubt in my mind that we will have a strong public option.

    October 24, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  15. MJ

    This whole process is insane! There is zero transparency and we should all be demanding to hear and see what is going on behind closed doors. This is our Health Care and Money that is being jerked around just so Obama can stick a feather in his cap and claim some sort of victory! In reality, We, the People, will lose.

    October 24, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. mjm

    Before liberals pop off about how Republicans have no plan, here's Sen. Mike Johanns. Dems won't like it because it doesn't spend trillions.

    What I support in health care reform:

    • Insurance Company Reform – I believe insurance companies must be more transparent, which is why I support insurance reform that includes standardized forms and enhanced transparency. In addition, those with pre-existing conditions should be able to purchase health insurance at an affordable price.
    • Better Insurance Rates for Small Businesses – I feel it's important to allow small businesses and associations to pool employees and members together to negotiate for the benefits they want at the prices they can afford, providing them with the same leverage larger companies have had for years.
    • Buying Down Costs – For those who truly have no affordable options, I support government subsidies to help pay for insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments.
    • Malpractice Reform – The cost of medical liability insurance for physicians and other health care providers is driving up the cost of health care for all consumers. Malpractice reform has the potential to save $126 billion a year, an option I strongly support.
    • Prevention and Wellness – Up to 75 percent of health care costs go toward care for chronic conditions. Boosting disease prevention and wellness efforts not only lowers health care costs, it promotes a healthier lifestyle for all Americans.

    October 24, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. Fred the Moderate

    The GOP has something negative to say about transparency? The party of GW Bush and Dick Cheney, Richard Nixon and Sperow T Agnew has something negative to say about the most transparent president sense Bill Clinton?

    Some things just aren't worth listening to!

    October 24, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. Tom

    No public option, then all you representatives and senators start looking for a new job. I cannot imagine why any of you wouldn't vote for a public option when your getting the best insurance in the country and the people are paying for it.

    October 24, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  19. Pa conservative

    I truly worry....when will the cost of this program reach home to the democrats? Do they really believe a program such as theirs is "reform"? Wake up, this isn't reform, this is government takeover! Why would Obama keep the facts behind closed doors?
    The dems who want this either feel quilty that they are wealthy and want to feel good cause it won't impact them or are citizens who do not believe in being responsible for themselves and want government to provide.

    October 24, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  20. joe m

    the promise for transparency on this matter has pretty much gone the way of the dodo. it has proven as credible as the promise for not signing bills with earmarks, or being more open, and putting aside the divisive practices of the past. in the long term, if this trend continues, democrats will end up suffering the same fate as the republicans. young, independent, and moderates supported the president b/c he promised to move away from the kind of politics so many have gotten tired of. more and more he has demonstrated that he is not so different from all other politicians afterall. the president has been practicing those behaviors that democrats criticised the bush administration on; not wanting to talk to their enemies, marginalizing those who do not agree, and having the mentality of 'you're either with us, or against us'. it is really sad since this president was suppose to be the person who would help usher in a new era in american politics. turns out that his former pastor was right, 'mr. obama is (indeed) a politician'.

    October 24, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. Biased

    Now it comes down to "states can opt in or out" attitude? This is pitiful. It seems now democrats are desperate just to get anything different passed so they can add a notch to their achievement belt no matter how good it turns out to be or how bad. Why aren't they reminding everyone a public option won't take effect for at least 4 years or more? It appears this bill will be not much more than whatever democrats feel "they can get passed" and nothing like genuine reform at all.

    October 24, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  22. New Yorker

    Government healthcare is not something the government should be involved in. People need to be encouraged to take responsibility for themselves. if our government schools were functioning the way they should, considering all the taxpayer money that is pumped into them, students would learn what they need to know to earn a fair wage. Instead, the liberal NEA and cronies in Congress continue to run the show and dumb down America so they can keep their power and invoke their agenda which is destroying the country.

    October 24, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    The Obama Administration and the Democrat Congress are behind closed doors because they do not want the American public to see the pork and special interest exceptions such as the Unions being exempt from the Cadillac Insurance taxes.

    October 24, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. Reagan was wrong

    This is getting so old.

    This isn't a "weekly address", it's a "weekly complaint" which, as usual, is completely devoid of solutions or ideas.

    October 24, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  25. Tired of stupidity

    No matter how open a president is, Obama has been more transparent than previous administrations. Yet there will be back door deals by Congress yes Congress not the president Except that the GOP keeps forgetting that they made many back door deals. The 12 years they were in charge of Congress and yet we keep getting poo pooed on by them. I am tired of the GOP/Corporatists whinning I am for Americans well being first then Corporations the GOP needs to stop thinking that the corporations are people, THEY ARE NOT!! I dislike hypocricy and stupidity real fed up by this GOP hitting back at anything the president does it makes there argument less credible when there is something to hit back at. Hey GOP quit crying wolf soon nobody will believe you except the wingnuts, teabaggers, ultra-conservatives, birthers seems to me its already going that way.

    October 24, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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