Tales from the Trail

Is there a doctor in the (White) House?

Doctors do make house calls after all.

OK so it helps if you’re the president of the United States and your house is on Washington postcards.

OBAMA/The White House Rose Garden was a sea of white lab coats as doctors from around the country were the latest audience for President Barack Obama’s pitch on healthcare reform.

“I am thrilled to have all of you here today. And you look very spiffy in your coats,” Obama said.

The current state of play on the legislation is that the Senate Finance Committee will vote on its version on Tuesday, and it is expected to be approved. That bill then gets melded with one passed earlier this year by the Senate Health committee. Then the mixed concoction hits the Senate floor for a vote, expected by mid-October.

The public option is the wild card — whether it gets included and if so in what form.

Boehner: public option stinks

So, does anybody out there in the real world support a government-run “public” health insurance option?

House of Representatives Republican leader John Boehner doesn’t think so.

SPAINHe told reporters on Thursday: “I’m still trying to find the first American to talk to who is in favor of the public option other than a member of Congress or the administration.”

Democrats suggested the Ohio congressman is not getting out enough, but Boehner thought otherwise. “I get to a lot of places,” he said.

Grayson sweet-talks Republicans on healthcare reform

In the never-ending Democratic struggle to win bipartisan support for healthcare reform, Representative Alan Grayson is probably not the guy to send to the House floor to woo Republicans.

Democrats, he said in a floor speech a couple days ago, want to fix the U.S. healthcare system by expanding insurance coverage to the 47 million people who do not have it.

“The Republican plan,” he said, is basically: “Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.”
He brought along big posterboard signs to underscore the idea in the event somebody found his point too subtle.
Republicans were not happy with this characterization of their ideas for healthcare and suggested an apology was in order.
A much-chastened Grayson returned to the House floor Wednesday to make amends.

Healthcare, unplugged

It’s never going to top any charts, but the folks who put a recording of HR3200 online for your listening pleasure are back.

INDIA-RD/This time, they’re offering a digital recording of the Senate Finance Committee version of healthcare reform offered by chairman Max Baucus. And they keep the site updated with all modifications to the bill as it moves through the committee.

The voice actors doing the reading see their performances as a public service. “We read, you listen, we ALL decide,” is the slogan atop their Web site.

The First Draft: Public option, Afghan policy under scrutiny

Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee face off Tuesday over whether an overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system should include an optional government-run health insurance plan.

The panel, which is debating changes to Chairman Max Baucus’s healthcare reform bill, is dealing with amendments about the public option Tuesday.

USA/The public insurance option has become a hot button issue. Many Democrats, including President Barack Obama, say it is needed to make sure there is enough competition to drive down prices.

Liberal Democrats after Baucus over public insurance option

Senator Max Baucus is taking a bashing from liberal Democrats for leaving public insurance out of the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare reform bill.

With the committee chaired by Baucus headed for a showdown on the issue Tuesday, a new ad taken out by the liberal wing of his own Democratic party notes he took millions in contributions from the health and insurance industries and asks: “Whose side are you on?”

Baucus is a target because he kept a public option out of his healthcare bill in order to try to fashion a measure that could win both Republican and Democratic support.

Kennedy successor joins Senate, takes up health reform battle

Former Democratic Party Chairman Paul Kirk has a few months in his new job to help accomplish what his friend, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, devoted much of his life to: Trying to provide affordable healthcare to all Americans.

Kirk was sworn in on Friday to take the Senate seat held for 47 years by Kennedy, his party’s liberal lion and leading advocate for healthcare reform.

KENNEDY-SEAT/The ascension of Kirk again gives Democrats, provided they stick together, the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to clear Republican procedural roadblocks.

Slide in support for healthcare overhaul slows, poll says

USA-HEALTHCARE/USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMAPublic support for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform initiative has rebounded slightly following his speech to Congress this month, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday.

Forty-five percent of Americans approve of the president’s handling of healthcare, compared to 46 percent who disapprove, the poll found. In last month’s NBC/WSJ poll last month, 47 percent disapproved and 41 percent approved.

Obama delivered a healthcare speech to Congress on Sept. 9 followed by a media blitz to revive his case for reform. His healthcare overhaul initiative suffered a setback as the hot topic in a summer of raucous rallies and public debate.

After much delay, Baucus unveils healthcare plan

After weeks of delay as he negotiated for Republican support, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus Wednesday unveiled a 10-year, $856 billion plan to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.

The measure still has no promise of Republican support, even though Baucus dumped the public insurance option favored by most Democrats and agreed to other Republican changes in hopes of producing a bipartisan plan.

SENATE/HEALTHCAREBaucus predicted it would ultimately garner Republican votes.

“This is a good bill. This is a balanced bill. It can pass the Senate,” he said.

Barack and Bill lunching, can burgers be far away?

So we hear that current President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton are going to do lunch today.

OBAMA/It will follow Obama’s big financial regulation speech being delivered to Wall Street on the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse.

Wondering how much appetite they’re going to have after a speech on financial collapse and during an almost inevitable discussion about healthcare reform — the issue that turned into this past summer’s discontent.