Tales from the Trail

Senate healthcare debate: hot time in cold room

September 24, 2009

It’s been likened to watching paint dry – the long-awaited debate in the Senate Finance Committee over a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system. USA-MURALS/

The panel, which prides itself as one of a few in Congress that operates in a bipartisan atmosphere, is in its third day of deliberations. But it has dispensed with only a few of the more than 500 amendments proposed to the legislation put forward by Committee Chairman Max Baucus.

After a delay at the start of Thursday’s session as Baucus waited for senators to arrive to present their amendments, things started to heat up in the freezing cold hearing room.

Discussion began over a proposal by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch that would have required a certification that no more than 1 million people would lose their insurance as a condition of implementing the bill. The debate quickly turned into an angry exchange over which party has the better ideas when it comes to fixing a $2.5 trillion system that almost everyone agrees is too costly and leaves too many people without medical coverage.

Tempers flared when Baucus, a Democrat who has remained upbeat about his bill’s prospects despite taking fire from all sides, made a remark about the lack of a plan from the opposition party. That brought howls of protests from Republicans and Senator Jon Kyl shot back: “We don’t believe in a massive government takeover. You will not see a massive Republican bill to do anything like that.”

As the arguments continued, Baucus interrupted Kyl to try to move things along. Kyl said he was not trying to delay and said it was “not courteous” for the chairman to interrupt someone in the middle of a sentence.

Democratic Senator Kent Conrad broke into the dispute, urging senators to “take a deep breath.” The debate over the Hatch amendment continued and when the time came to vote, the measure failed along strict party lines.

Things cooled down, the committee moved on to other amendments and the paint began to dry again.

Baucus is under pressure from Democratic leaders to quickly move the bill through his committee, the last of five congressional panels assigned to write the healthcare overhaul.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credit: Reuters/Tim Shaffer (artist painting a mural)

Comments
4 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

there is a saying ‘that paint hides a thousand mistakes’,but it is not going to work to cover all the misgivings that the American people have.They can try to confuse and smoke screen as much as they want but they can not hide the common sense facts that this will cost an arm and a leg,and if the democrats put their heads down and push it through irrespective ,then let them suffer the consequences in the 2010 elections.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

Doctors are creating the expense crisis that causes health insurance costs to screech ever higher. They refuse to listen to patients, put everyone in a cookie cutter diagnosis based on little if any evidence, and test for the wrong things.

Until we get better doctors, health care will certainly not be affordable.

Where’s their performance evaluation?

Posted by independent | Report as abusive
 

Independant,my brother-in-law is ER doctor his personal insurance cover is unbelievable.He is working with some one looking over his shoulder all the time ,guess wuo!

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

Health Care Needs to be reformend Now!

Posted by jpeezy | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/