Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Is the US healthcare debate making Americans feel better?

The healthcare reform debate brewing in the U.S. Senate may cause dyspepsia for some special interests.
    
But the mere prospect of reform could be making the American public feel better already — about health coverage, at least. That’s according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonpartisan philanthropic organization devoted to health and healthcare issues.
    
The foundation’s consumer confidence index for healthcare climbed to a new high of 104.4 points in October, as the debate gathered pace in the Senate and House of Representatives.
    
Why? There was a big jump in people’s confidence about future access to care and coverage. Fewer worried about losing their insurance and concerns about future affordability dropped, too.
    
“During a month when there was considerable momentum around health reform, including the passage of a reform bill by the Senate Finance Committee, the American public appears to be more confident about the future,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation president and CEO, Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey said.
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“Americans of every ideology know that our health care system needs to be fixed and want some type of reform,” she added.
    
That last remark — “some type of reform” — could prove prophetic.
    
Republicans seem to think reform is a terrible idea and appear to be in lock-step opposition to it.
    
That leaves it to Democrats and allied independents to forge a filibuster-proof, 60-vote majority to push legislation through. Despite sharp differences within their already frayed coalition, Democratic leaders appear to be betting that the whole bunch, in the end, will opt for “some type of reform” rather than returning home empty handed for the holidays.

Photo Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (U.S. Capitol)

Dems see silver lining for healthcare in election results

Republican victories in the Virginia and New Jersey governors’ races may send shivers through Democratic circles, but what does it mean for President Barack Obama’s ambitious proposal to overhaul the $2.5 trillion healthcare system?

pelosiNot much, say Democrats. They are looking beyond the state issues that dominated the governor’s races and instead are focusing on two congressional races won by Democrats where national issues like healthcare reform were in play. 

“From my perspective we won last night,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters when asked about Tuesday’s elections. “This was a victory for healthcare reform. From my standpoint we picked up votes last night — one in California and one in New York.”

House Republicans aim to kill Democratic health bill

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are gearing up for an epic battle against the sweeping healthcare reform that Democratic leaders hope to bring to the House floor for debate later this week.

boehner“Our goal is to make this as difficult as possible to vote for it,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner. “We think this bill is the wrong prescription for what ails our healthcare system in America.”

Representative Mike Pence, who heads the House Republican Conference, said the campaign against the bill unveiled last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi began over the weekend with Republican members delivering copies of the huge 1,990-page bill to public libraries. Also, Republican women are speaking against the bill this week on the House floor.

Lieberman likely to back some Republicans in 2010 election

Senator Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat-turned-independent, is at it again — comforting Republicans and irritating Democrats.

This time Lieberman is doing it by saying, “I probably will support some Republican candidates” in next year’s congressional election –  even though he’s still a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus. OBAMA/

“I’m going to call them as I see them,” he said in an interview with ABC News that the network posted on its web site on Friday.

Obama: “Skinny but tough”

obamatoughPresident Barack Obama had a message for his political friends and foes on Monday — “just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m not tough.”

After weeks in which he has been angrily criticized by some on the right, to the point of creating a poster image of him with a Hitler mustache, Obama told a Democratic fund-raising event in Miami that some of his supporters have been expressing concern to him.

“I’ve tried to explain … just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m not tough. I don’t rattle. I’m not going to shrink back, because now is the time for us to continue to push and follow through on those things that we know have to be done but have not been done in decades,” he said.

Poll finds a majority for ‘public option’

Americans are still sharply divided over President Barack Obama’s vision of healthcare overhaul, but they’re starting to come around  — again –  on the so-called public option, so says a new Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Monday.

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Fifty-seven percent of all Americans now favor a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers while 40 percent are opposed, according to the poll.

That’s up from 52 percent support in mid-August, but still down from 62 percent in June.

from Global News Journal:

U.S. Hispanics riled over immigrants’ healthcare exclusion

By Tim Gaynor

President Barack Obama's signature battle to overhaul the United States' $2.5 trillion healthcare industry to extend coverage and lower costs for Americans has met fierce opposition from Republicans.

But a move by Democrat backers to exclude 12 million illegal immigrants from buying health coverage and restrict the participation of authorized migrants has drawn the ire of U.S. Hispanics -- a bloc that overwhelmingly turned out to vote for Obama in last year's election.

Hispanic lawmakers and activists are riled by the bill pushed in the U.S. Senate by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, which denies illegal immigrants the option to buy health insurance and places a five-year wait period on legal immigrants before they can access health benefits.

Protests against Obama: race or policy?

Former President Jimmy Carter said out loud what Democrats had been whispering for a while, that the protests against the country’s first black president are tinged with racism.

USA-POLITICS/Carter’s forceful words threw the issue into the forefront of public debate.

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,” Carter said in an interview on NBC.

House Democrats bash health care opponents’ tactics

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hit back at protesters vocally disrupting healthcare reform meetings around the country, calling them “un-American” – and with that word ignited the ire of opposition Republicans.

Pelosi and Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote in USA Today that there was an “ugly campaign” to misrepresent the healthcare overhaul legislation being written in Congress and stop public debate, which they said is “at the heart of our democracy.”

Opponents have shouted down lawmakers at town meetings held to explain the healthcare ideas, calling the proposed government-run insurance program to compete with private insurers “socialism” – a fighting word in American politics.  “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American,” the Democrats wrote.