Tales from the Trail

Healthcare and the holidays

December 24, 2009

It’s Christmas Eve and there is a lot more stirring than just a mouse.  In Washington, D.C., the U.S. Senate just voted to approve a wide-ranging healthcare overhaul bill with Democrats and Republicans divided as they have ever been.

Ho Ho Healthcare

December 22, 2009

USA-WEATHER/SNOWSTORMNothing says Christmas in Washington like a cloture vote!

Keep those fir trees, ornaments, the city blanketed in white — though of course the U.S. capital has all of those this year too. What real Washingtonians are looking for is a getaway by December 25. And with an early morning vote  today to cut off Senate debate on healthcare reform legislation, it could actually happen.

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

November 24, 2009

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.

The First Draft: US healthcare reform as a tale of two cities

November 23, 2009

“…it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”
    
Charles Dickens never met U.S. senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. But he may have inadvertently captured the partisan spirit of the U.S. healthcare reform debate when he published his novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” with its famous introduction, 150 years ago.
    
Democrat Chuck and Republican Kay made clear on NBC’s Today show how many in their respective parties see the sweeping overhaul legislation that reached the U.S. Senate floor over the weekend. And by the sound of things, Washington could be two different cities. 
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Chuck seemed to present healthcare reform as a vehicle for economic salvation: “The future of the country depends on getting something done or the government will go broke, private businesses will go broke and people will go broke.”  

On book tour, it’s Palin unplugged

November 19, 2009

Like one of those grizzly bears way up yonder in Alaska, Sarah Palin was in hibernation for months while she wrote her book. And now that the book is out, she’s become unplugged.

Has abortion role been overblown in U.S. healthcare debate?

November 19, 2009

A new poll by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that concern about federal funding for abortion is very low on the list of factors driving opposition to President Barack Obama’s effort to overhaul America’s healthcare system.

Republican sees Democrats passing healthcare overhaul

November 13, 2009

Sarah Palin says on her Facebook page that the healthcare overhaul passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week should be “Dead on Arrival” in the U.S. Senate. 

The First Draft: What if Congress turned Republican on Obama?

November 12, 2009

A Republican-controlled Congress could be a real possibility for the second half of President Barack Obama’s four-year term, according to the latest Gallup poll.
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The poll of 894 registered voters suggests Republicans would win the U.S. House of Representatives by 48 percent to 44 percent if the 2010 congressional election were held today.

The First Draft: Democrats turn to Clinton in Senate healthcare push

November 10, 2009

Former President Bill Clinton is due to visit Capitol Hill today to talk healthcare reform with Senate Democrats and their independent allies. PHILANTHROPY-CLINTON/

Poll finds a majority for ‘public option’

October 20, 2009

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.