July 17th, 2009
02:15 PM ET
13 years ago

Senators urge slowdown in health care reform push

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Six key senators – three Democrats, one independent and two moderate Republicans – sent a letter to Senate leaders calling for a slowdown in the push for a health care overhaul, in light of the Congressional Budget Office's assessment that the Democratic plan currently being considered would not cut medical costs

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"We believe taking additional time to achieve a bipartisan result is critical for legislation that affects 17 percent of our economy and every individual in the U.S.," read the letter, signed by Democrats Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Ron Wyden. independent Joe Lieberman and Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who also said they were "firmly committed to enactment of comprehensive reform this year."

The letter echoes concerns raised by many conservative Democrats on the House side.

Full text of the letter after the jump.

Dear Senators Reid and McConnell:

In the current debate about our health care system, we are firmly committed to enactment of comprehensive reform this year. That reform must reduce premiums and administrative costs, expand choices, and increase coverage for all Americans. We are eager to work constructively with Senate leadership and agree that this is an historic opportunity which makes it imperative to proceed thoughtfully and responsibly. Our efforts will affect virtually every American.

The American people expect us to adopt comprehensive health reform that addresses the priorities we have outlined without detrimentally affecting those who have health insurance or increasing the national debt. This week, Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf testified that the currently introduced health reform bills will not reduce costs. We are faced with the dual challenges of pressing ahead to pass legislation by the end of the year and to produce the reform the American people need.

We appreciate the work that has been done by Senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Finance committees, but in view of the Budget Director's statement, there is much heavy lifting ahead. We support the efforts of Finance Committee members to produce a bipartisan bill, despite calls from both sides of the aisle to rush forward or delay indefinitely. While we are committed to providing relief for American families as quickly as possible, we believe taking additional time to achieve a bipartisan result is critical for legislation that affects 17 percent of our economy and every individual in the U.S.

We look forward to working with you to develop legislation that is vital to the well-being of the American people and urge you to resist timelines which prevent us from achieving the best result. This opportunity is rare and the impact will last for generations.


Ben Nelson
United States Senator

Olympia J. Snowe
United States Senator

Joseph I. Lieberman
United States Senator

Susan M. Collins
United States Senator

Mary L. Landrieu
United States Senator

Ron Wyden
United States Senator

Filed under: Ben Nelson • Health care • Joe Lieberman • Mary Landrieu • Olympia Snowe • Susan Collins
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Ken from missouri

    Thank You Senators for using some logic in this bill and for looking at
    both sides of this issue and what will be like if this bill passes.

    July 17, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  2. Bella from Florida

    I truely appreciate their decision . This is something kthat will definitely affect all of our lives and we need to get this right if it is there is going to be any kind of reform. I do not agree with a Universal Health Care Plan, however we should try to lower cost.done.

    July 17, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    Hmmm – people keep calling this "Obama's problem".

    I think it's OUR problem. We're the people with expensive healthcare thanks to Insurance and Pharmaceutical Companies.

    He's wealthy. He doesn't have a problem.

    WE DO. The need to earn their pay and DO SOMETHING.

    July 17, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    "THEY" talk money.

    "WE" talk people's lives.

    Why are we paying them a salary? They don't care about us. Only their own.

    July 17, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. Bruce Busch

    The Congress is, of course, going to abolish their own health care plan and enroll themselves in the new plan, right?

    July 17, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  6. Vic of New York

    Bull-zit! Push Harder! Move Faster! Get your behinds in gear and get with the program!

    Those three so called "Democrats" can consider themselves toast. You're gone at the next election – mark my words!

    July 17, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  7. The Light

    Can they slow it down, we ant to know how much money the insurance companies and pharmeceutical companies are giving to candidates before all of this is decided upon!!

    July 17, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. rice, bryan

    of course they want a slow down on this issue. the insurance lobbists need more time to grease as many palms as they can to stop the insanity of the thought of everyone being able to get good medical attention. the price of health insurance keeps going up and up, and more, and more companies can not afford to pay for it. every year my companies rates go up, and we have to figure out how we can pay for it, and not pass it along to our employees. sometimes we have to pay for a lower level coverage package, or we have to raise the out of pocket to the employees. the ceos of the insurance companies are not hurting for money. more and more americans are hurting very badly.

    July 17, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. Phil in NE

    Thank God somebody in Washington is listening. If as a nation we don’t want this “Government Health Care”, then our elected representative’s should not vote for it. Our system of health care is not perfect, however, we should not be forced to take this one. And if I choose not to have health care, then that is my business and not the governments. I also have to accept the fact that if I get sick; then I pay for it.

    July 17, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. mj

    where are the practcing doctors on Obamas panel? Why are they not talking about the doctors and the type of care the US will be getting? ie Canada

    July 17, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  11. Julie

    They need to take the time to get this right; and another aspect of the debate should be whether healthcare should continue as a "for profit" industry with our health care as their product? As a taxpayer who pays for my own insurance and has to pay the bill for the free access of so many others, both citizens and undocumented, I feel like I'm being overburdened with costs of a "product" that so many view as a "right" and that they should have unlimited access to all levels of care. Which is it going to be???

    July 17, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. Richard Puente

    I wonder how many of these senators have a clue whats it's like to be with out healthcare.

    July 17, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. nazario a. gonzales

    Just thinking about the cost of healthcare reform and the creation of another government bureaucracy stuns me. A minimum of a trillion plus dollars to be spent in the next 10 years. Is there not an alternative to creating a single payer system or creating another department to manage the "new and improved" health care system?

    Has the government and Congress really considered alternatives to the current model? With the record keeping system the US government and the States manage, why not just create cooperatives managed by current health insurers, obtain good coverage plans for individuals, provide block grants to the individual states, who would process and qualify individuals for payment of health insurance coverage. Indigence need not be the sole factor for providing coverage. A means test could be employed. Thus everyone could be covered and the Feds would only finance the program, but not manage it.

    Just an idea......thank you....

    July 17, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. bearced

    Senators; I agree that you must take the time to do it right! I have a thought for you. Why not let the government collect premiums from everyone( the government is good at collecting money) then pay the insurance companies to administer the plan. The insurance companies would then make a profit based on efficiency instead of denials.

    July 17, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Really!?

    Finally the Congressional Budget Office sheds some "honest" light on this subject. Health care reform will not save any of us a penny and likely lead to huge budget shortfalls in the future – like Medicare.

    This is not a health care bill it is another government control tactic. Just like Cap and Trade does little to actually help the environment but it gives government more control and taxes. The bail outs are the same way. GM could have went bankrupt without government money but then government would not have a share of control over it.

    Less freedom, fewer rights, less choices, bigger bills, higher taxes – BIG GOVERNMENT.

    July 17, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. Kathy

    I wonder if congress is "firmly committed to enactment of comprehensive reform this year". I know that my elected officials have great health benefits & until those are reduced congress won't do anything to help the rest of us. As a bookkeeper I have seen 15-20% increases in premiums year after year while the benefits are reduced to the point I pay more to see a doctor than my insurance co. does. But without the insurance I stand to lose everything I have worked for in one illness. A letter today in the USA Today states that the legislation currently coming out of committee puts a burden of $326 per individual per year for health care. All I can say is sign me up!

    July 17, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. kyle from ohio

    Would you Elected official got off you collective butts and get this done, It is not a finished plan, So how can you say it not going to save or not save money. Get a finish plan first before you slow down, you Follish Elected officials

    July 17, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. Zero.

    He wove his own web. Building on Match-Sticks then he forgot where.

    Maybe they went up in smoke, with is cigars.

    July 17, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Ash in AL

    yeah please!

    This fear tactics of "we gotta do it now or it's the end" is not the most effective way to reform health care. It's bound to make it worst!

    July 17, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    Congress needs to put themselves and the President on any government run health insurance program since common sense tells average Americans their company will probably put them on it too. That way we will never get a government run system that will go broke like Medicare/Medicaid will in 2017 if not sooner. It is funny how the democrats only use the CBO numbers when they are in their favor and the media may give the information out but it is near the bottom of the list in importance unless it favors a democrat program.

    July 17, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Four and The Door

    Okay, here's a chance to avert financial disaster before it becomes law. But Obama has his mind made up and frankly he's a little bit spoiled now spending all the money we don't have. Good luck with that.

    July 17, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. Ray Lawson from Danville, VA

    I get very tired of hearing the media say that Obama wants a health care bill passed now. I really don't care what Obama wants.
    If health care needs changes, why can't Congress have a long quiet debate and look at all sides of the debate so that the 300 million citizens of this country can follow along with what is being discussed?
    Obama wants to ram things through before people know what is going on and that stinks. He is not a king and he works for us, he doesn't rule this country.

    July 17, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. Betty Saylor

    I was present this past weekend at a retirement function and everyone there was not in favor of pushing this health care plan through. Congress need to take time and make sure they read what they are voting on this time. This country is in an awful mess.

    July 17, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. Colleen

    What President Obama is saying makes sense. We need to reform health care now.

    Even "if" we all have to pay a little more now, it is essential we do this for ourselves and our children down the road. Whether we can afford to or not.

    Our economy is in trouble. Health care costs are going to be out of reach for the average person soon if something isn't done.

    Why hasn't anyone mentioned eliminating free health care to anyone who enters our country illegally? How many millions do United States citizens pay each year for the health care of non-citizens when we can't afford health care for ourselves? Can we go to Mexico or Canada and receive free health care? I think it's time we do something for ourselves.

    Enough politics, no one is fooled. It's time for the Senate and Congress to put aside their personal interests for the good of the people. Right.

    July 17, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. kishen c.rao

    why???? are they bribed?????

    July 17, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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