Monday, June 8, 2009

Republicans Say No To Pres. Obama's Universal Health Care Coverage Plan

A debate over creating a single-payer public option insurance plan as part of sweeping health care reform intensified Monday. All but one of the 10 Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee on Monday signed a letter to Obama expressing their opposition to the public option, which Obama strongly supports. In their letter to Obama, the Finance Committee Republicans said a public option would result in “a federal government takeover of our healthcare system, taking decisions out of the hands of doctors and patients and placing them in the hands of a Washington bureaucracy.” [The Hill]

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), has said that getting lasting reform signed into law will require broad bipartisan support, therefore, single-payer public option insurance plan is off the table because Republicans will not support it. Baucus has been a staunch opponent of any health care reform plan in which the government would provide universal coverage.

“The key to a bipartisan bill is to not have a government plan in the bill — no matter what it’s called,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters this month. “When I say no government plan I mean no government plan. Not something described some other way, not something that gets us to the same place by indirection — no government plan.”

Baucus has kept single-payer advocates out of Senate hearings and negotiations and has yet to endorse a compromise proposal by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that would give Americans the option of buying into a publicly run plan that would compete with private insurers. Baucus furthered his efforts for bipartisanship with Republicans by promoting Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign health care reform proposals to tax employee health care benefits as income.

Sen. Max Baucus got some not-so friendly feedback from his Montana constituents over his efforts to keep a single-payer public option insurance plan off the table. Five separate accounts of public meetings back home in Montana, published in four different local papers, show Montana voters were downright hostile to Baucus' efforts to block a universal health care option. "Majority wants single-payer health care," headlined an account in the Helena Independent Record. At several of the public meetings, Montanans' ire was directed at Baucus chief of staff Jon Selib, who defended Baucus' stance as an attempt for bipartisan support for health care reform. []

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