December 15th, 2009
04:52 PM ET
7 months ago

Dean: Time to 'kill the Senate bill'

Howard Dean told an interviewer Tuesday it was time to scrap the Senate health care bill and head back to the House.
Howard Dean told an interviewer Tuesday it was time to scrap the Senate health care bill and head back to the House.

Washington (CNN) – As 'Code Red Rally' conservatives hit Capitol Hill today in a bid to kill the Democrats' health care reform bill, the same message came from a voice from the other end of the political spectrum: former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

There have been increasing complaints from liberals in recent days, as what they consider key elements of President Obama's health care reform plan – including a public health insurance option, and a compromise proposal that would allow individuals to buy in to the Medicare system at age 55 – have apparently been jettisoned to win the support of conservative Democrats, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, and moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. Some have said the bill has been so watered-down, it may be time to abandon it entirely.

Dean – a doctor who has long made health care reform a signature issue – told Vermont Public Radio in an interview set to air later Tuesday afternoon that the proposal being weighed by the Senate signaled "the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate."

Dean had said earlier that he would be willing to support a bill without a public option, as long as it included a Medicare buy-in provision. If Democrats remove a Medicare buy-in measure to satisfy Lieberman, the bill isn't worth backing, said Dean – and congressional leaders should start over at square one.

"If Barack Obama's healthcare plan gets changed to exclude a public option like Medicare, then it is not healthcare reform," he said in a post on his Web site. "Legislation rises and falls on whether the American public is allowed to choose a universally available public option or not."

On Tuesday, Dean seemed to suggest the bill had already fallen. "This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate," he said. "Honestly, the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House."

VPR also said the former Vermont governor had suggested it was time to consider employing the controversial budget reconciliation procedure, which would also require a simple majority of 51 votes.

One of the central issues of Dean's presidential run in 2004 was a call for universal health care.

–CNN's Rebecca Sinderbrand and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story


Filed under: Health care • Howard Dean
soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. hmmm...

    Who needs the fed? Put your money where your mouth is. Make this a state issue just as gay marriage is. Work at the state level and accomplish health reform there and sooner or later it will spread. Why do we always want the fed to do what we should be doing at home? They hold our money. Pass health reform at home and grow some backbone and tell the fed 'NO' as a state as far as comig in and takig our tax money and keeping it home for health care within the state. Gosh...restrict their power to take our money and create what we want at home. Gee...what a two hundred plus year old thought that is.

    December 15, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    If you've ever worked for an insurance company you will find that doctors know nothing about insurance that's why they hire people to do that job. Doctors and insurance just don't mix.

    December 15, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. Mike in MN

    Wait I thought Obama was all tingly that the bill may be about to pass in the Senate. Does this mean liberals lead by Dean may try to kill it? If that happens will Liberman and Republcans be the bad guys for wanting to kill the bill but Dean and the liberals good guys for wanting to kill the same bill? This is really too funny. Maybe Dean is just screaming out of his pie hole again and like most times, no one is listening.

    December 15, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. minnie

    Please go with reconciliation ... PLEASE.

    December 15, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  5. mjm

    Please do not toy with me like that!

    I was happy to see the public option get dumped. But to think that this bill could actually be killed is even better.

    Believe me libs, you are better off without this bill. The public option was never going to be what you thought it was and Medicare was going to be destroyed.

    December 15, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  6. Stacie

    Nooooo! We need reform.

    December 15, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  7. S M R

    It's all about the bottom line for Republican's: Huge Corporate Profits.

    December 15, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. CA Man

    Yes, the bill is absolute detritus now, no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Joe Lieberman should be exiled.

    December 15, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  9. Joseph Buttacavli

    your right obama is a clown, we don't want to hear this idiot anymore. he has no clue what he is doing and everything is in a big hurry. why can't he say i am here for 3 more years, you guy's figure out health care and get back to me.

    December 15, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. elyhim

    I agree, it's time to strip Leiberman of anything, then when he waffles he can't be seen as upholding his moral fibre. Time to let him go, be adults and send him to his room without dinner, let him split the GOP vote in the next election and not the Democratic vote.

    December 15, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. JMikey54

    Lieberman will not be running for reelection. So don't worry about voting against him. He is washed up. He knows it. So he is going to cash in while he has a chance. Make as much as he can from health insurance lobbyists and whoever else can get him to vote their way and in a few more years he will retire a happy man, probably to his true home state of Israel.

    December 15, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Moderate Democrat

    Reconciliation Process

    Include the public option. include medicare at 55 (Heck, make it 40 just to piss them off). And create a windfall profit tax on insurance companies alone.

    We tried working with them, that didn't work, they will NOT let anything pass under a 60 rule. Time for reconciliation process. 51 votes, that's all we need. If they don't like it, they can change it in 2010 IF they have the votes to do it.

    December 15, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. File under "Sarcasm"

    Hey, Howard Dean has finally got it right. The healthcare bill is so full of bribes for various senator's to garner their votes that the result is 2000 pages of crap!

    December 15, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  14. S.B.

    I am really disappointed in all the so-called Democrats who have killed the good features of this bill because of pettiness and their own selfish interests. Lieberman disappoints me, but I'm not surprised at his stance because it was mostly Republicans in his state that voted for him in the last election, and he's not a democrat; he's an independent. The progressives in Conn. voted for LaMont. However, I don't think he should be allowed to keep his committee chairmanships. But I don't think people like Ben Nelson should be calling themselves Democrats if they don't support the party's platforms. I don't particularly care for Harry Reid, but I think he's doing the best he can considering the number of Democrats he has to deal with who are Republicans in sheep's clothing. I like the idea of attaching the public option as a rider to bills financing the mess in the Middle East. If it weren't for that mess Bush left us with, we could afford a lot more for our own people.

    December 15, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  15. mjm

    "So, we get to pay high premiums to bloated insurance companies who are exempt from anti-trust laws and in it purely for greed"

    Spoken like someone with no clue. Ins companies are exempt from federal anti-trust laws NOT STATE ANTI-TRUST LAWS. Why? Because every state has a different scope of practice. Insurance companies have to pay the u/c for that state. Ins companies are the most regulated industry out there.

    "and in it purely for greed"

    Says the guy that wants free health care on someone else’s tax dollar. Insurance companies pay millions of dollars in med bills per year. Someone who pays $2000 in premiums can have a $140000 hospital bill covered at 100% (happened to a friend of mine).

    December 15, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. Greg in MO

    A simple matter? Take other's money to with what you feel is right? I wouldn't call opposition to universal health coverage a protection of insurance companies, I would call it protection of liberty. You feel that the government should take my hard earned money to pay for the health care of those who can and can't afford under the guise of compassion. I feel that compasion is when I willing give my hard earned money to help those less fortunate.
    Yours and other liberal's simple solution? Give the federal government the power to force my earnings from my hand. Or, in other words, create a tyranny that simply steals it.
    Thank you so much for your compassion.

    December 15, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  17. Fed Up

    It should have been killed when they decided they were going to ram anything they wanted down our throats. Health care needs revamping, yes. However, we don't need a government option, or expensive health insurance, or anything else RUN by the government. Police the insurance companies and make some changes.

    December 15, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  18. kt

    I am just about sick to death of this country...Everything is about an agenda and it has nothing to do with the welfare of the American people...President Obama has come into office with genuine intent on bringing about real change to a country that in reality is one catastrophe away from being another Soviet Union or, God forbid, another Roman Empire... Yet our congress is so caught up in meeting their own individual agendas that they could care less about you or me...There is nothing United about the State of America except that we have all bought in to what our no good, good for nothing government has been selling us for all of these years, which really amounts to nothing at all...We are willing to spend our tax dollars to go overseas and kill people and have our own people killed, but we're not willing to spend those same dollars in our own country to save people lives?...There's something flawed about this logic...Wake up Americans and understand that we cannot get anything for free!...Get the bill passed people and stop playing the old bs political games that have kept this country from being the great nation that it could be.

    December 15, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  19. Hammerer

    Obama can not kill the bill. He has made deals with the insurance industry and the drug industry. They pay the bills. Obama has to give them their rewards regardless.
    When you sell your soul to the devil you do not have an option. Now Obama must pay up.

    December 15, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  20. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    I agree Dr. Dean since there is no public option there will be no reform.

    If it is passed as it sits, no one will be happy. The cons will be upset and the progressives will be upset.

    If it passes it is a no win for Dems.

    December 15, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  21. Tim

    Congress should move on to a plan to allow derelict homeowners with past due mortgages the ability to borrow more money that they won't repay to insulate their homes to reduce the utility bills that we subsidize.

    It's win-win.

    December 15, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. Dustin

    It is sad to see the American political system fail in front of my eyes. It is clear that the will of the American people cannot be done unless we have term limits on Congressional and Senatorial seats. All these clowns care about is their own personal gain and where the most money comes from.

    As for the "Birthers" and "Tea Baggers", please actually fact check the emails that you pass back and forth. Keith's reference to "Barry" is another example of false and misleading emails that either twist the facts or run with fictional news stories as the truth, much like their leader Rush ran with a fictional Obama story and then claimed that it didn't matter that it was fictional because he knows Obama thinks it. What pig slop.

    December 15, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  23. Tom L

    Will you on the left please stop saying that Republicans either
    a) hate Americans
    b) want to kill Americans

    You sound so foolish. That is the argument a 5th grader would make. Grow up. There are different visions on how to accomplish fixing the problems to healthcare. That's it. Pretty simple. No, the Republicans don't want Americans to die. No, Lieberman's wife isn't influencing his decisions. No, Republicans aren't in the back pockets of insurance any more than Democrats are (just look at the campaign contributions). Just grow up.

    How about this for an idea: Have the insurance options that our wonderful people in Congress have available to all. If you can't afford it and still want insurance, have some program in place that people have to qualify for and subsidize them. It's not that difficult.

    December 15, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. David

    I am sick of this whole debate. Pass a bill and change it when there are problems. That is what representative democracy is all about. Stop the hate. The republicans ave totally embarassed themselves and I'm tired of the Obama name calling. Get over it. Give Obama 8 years like bush stole and lets see where the country is in 2016. I am betting on Obama.

    December 15, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. Jerry

    OMG! I always thought I would never agree on anything with former Governor Dean. Him, going against President NObama's wishes; that's really precious. And, he happens to be right, too!!!

    Go Mr. Dean!

    December 15, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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