Tales from the Trail

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.

“It is a fact that 85 percent of healthcare decisions in this country are made by American women,” Pence said.

On Thursday, House Republicans plan a special Internet town hall meeting. Pence said the discussion with participants will last at least 12 hours.

House healthcare bill doesn’t boost public support – Poll

The big presentation — that’s 1,990 pages — of healthcare reform legislation by Democrats in the House of Representatives last week didn’t boost public support, with more voters still opposed to the effort, according to a new Rasmussen Reports opinion poll.

Just to recap where things stand: House Democratic leaders are hoping to move their bill to the floor for debate by late this week, it includes a government-run public insurance option. In the Senate, Democratic leaders are waiting for cost estimates on their legislation, which also includes a version of the “public option.” USA-HEALTHCARE/

The latest Rasmussen poll found that 42 percent of those surveyed favored the healthcare plan proposed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. That was down from 45 percent a week ago and unchanged from two weeks ago.

The First Draft: Return from Dover

President Barack Obama returned in the early hours from a trip to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where he saluted the flag-draped caskets of 18 soldiers and Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed in Afghanistan this week. OBAMA/

Journalists were allowed to see the transfer of the last casket. Reuters correspondent Ross Colvin was there and reports that it was cold and blustery as Obama stood at attention and saluted as six soldiers carried the casket, bearing the body of Sergeant Dale Griffin of Indiana, off the plane and onto a waiting van.

With at least 53 killed, October has been the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Afghanistan and public opinion polls show increasing weariness of the war.

Senate healthcare bill: Opt-out is in, Snowe is not

The opt-out is in.

USA HEALTHCARE/REIDThe Senate healthcare reform legislation will include a form of public option that would allow states to opt out of participating in a government-run insurance plan if they choose.

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says his Democrats will support it.

“While the public option is not a silver bullet, I believe it’s an important way to ensure competition and to level the playing field for patients with the insurance industry,” Reid said.

But by including the opt-out, the Democrats lost the lone Republican senator to vote for healthcare legislation — Senator Olympia Snowe from Maine — who opted out because of the opt-out.

Senator: Is there enough money on planet to subsidize healthcare?

All the government subsidies in the world will not be enough to make health insurance premiums affordable for Americans without more cost control and competition in the proposed sweeping reform backed by President Barack Obama, one Senator says.

No that’s not a Republican talking, it’s a Democrat.

USA/As congressional Democrats work to narrow their differences over healthcare reform some are worried that people will be unable to afford the premiums on the medical coverage they will be required to buy.

Legislation being considered in the Senate and House of Representatives include substantial subsidies, but will that be enough to make insurance affordable? Democratic Senator Ron Wyden does not think so.

Did health insurance industry report backfire?

Support for a “strong public option” appears to be growing in the House of Representatives.

One of the reasons is that a health insurance industry report predicting higher premiums if Congress fails to enact a healthcare overhaul without a strong mandate for individuals to purchase coverage appears to have backfired.

Democratic aides say support for a strong public health plan to compete with insurers is gaining strength in the House which is weighing three versions of the public option. USA/

The First Draft: Let it Snowe, Let it Snowe, Let it Snowe

Republican Senator Olympia Snowe is having her day in the sun.

Snowe blanketed morning TV talk shows. The main question posed to the Maine moderate: How does it feel to be all alone? GERMANY/

“I have to focus on what I think is right. My constituents expect that in Maine, they want me to do what I think is right for the country, for the state,” she said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“And so I decided to set aside my own differences and try to see what was right for the country and moving forward.”

Snowe jumps ship in attempt to turn healthcare “Titanic”

Well, she did it.

IRAQ-USA/CONGRESSRepublican Senator Olympia Snowe, a moderate from Maine, jumped off the Republican steamer to vote yes on the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare reform bill.

In explaining why she was voting against the Republican line, Snowe likened changing the healthcare status quo to “turning the Titanic around” before it hit the iceberg.

She became the first Republican to vote for changing the healthcare system, which has become President Barack Obama’s signature domestic issue.

Dust-up over healthcare reform ahead of Senate panel’s vote

The fragile consensus in favor of healthcare reform may be coming apart.

With the Senate Finance Committee due to vote on its reform bill Tuesday, the insurance industry’s trade group released an analysis saying the measure would drive up costs by thousands of dollars over the next decade.

The White House quickly fired back.

“This is a self-serving analysis from the insurance industry, one of the major opponents of health insurance reform,” spokesman Reid Cherlin said.SENATE/HEALTHCARE

“It comes on the eve of a vote that will reduce the industry’s profits. It is hard to take it seriously,” he said.

The First Draft: Achoo

The U.S. government wants you to know the H1N1 swine flu vaccine is safe. FLU/VACCINE-USA

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blanketed morning television talk shows with basically the one message. “This definitely is a safe vaccine for people to get,” she said on NBC’s “Today” show, urging the public to visit flu.gov.

People are worried, but how much depends on which poll you look at.

A Consumer Reports survey last month found that nearly two-thirds of American parents said they would hold off having their children vaccinated against the H1N1 swine flu or wouldn’t get them immunized at all, expressing wariness about whether the new vaccine had been tested enough.

A Harvard School of Public Health survey earlier this month found that 75 percent of parents would get the swine flu vaccine for their children.