Tales from the Trail

Republican to seniors: “You’re going to die sooner” with healthcare reform

Republican Senator Tom Coburn doesn’t mince words. He was crystal clear about what he thinks ofcoburn1 healthcare reform being debated in the Senate, saying to seniors: “I have a message for you: You’re going to die sooner.”

Senators are debating an amendment by Republican Senator John McCain that would send the bill back to the Senate Finance Committee with instructions to strike the Medicare cuts from the bill.  Democrats defended the legislation saying the proposed spending cuts would not reduce seniors’ health benefits.

“I’d like to once and for all lay to rest this false claim that the pending bill is going to ‘hurt seniors’ and it is going to hurt providers and it’s going to be this long parade of horribles that the other side likes to mention,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said.

“It is totally, patently untrue, the claims that they are making,” he argued.

The bill calls for more than $400 billion in spending cuts for Medicare over 10 years. A big chunk of the money comes from reducing subsidies for Medicare Advantage, which provides health services for the elderly through private insurers.

Healthcare refomer, heal thyself

USA/White House Budget Director Peter Orszag would like to know what treatments work for him — a middle-aged white male who exercises. And he thinks healthcare reform efforts should focus in part on getting that kind of information to everyone.

Experts on healthcare, lobbyists and politicians started a final crunch on Tuesday to try and put together a healthcare reform package that will lower costs, help more Americans get insurance, and improve the less-than-optimal care that most patients now get.

Orszag assured Congress that the White House was leaving the details to lawmakers — but dropped hints about what he would like to see. One example — a new agency or framework for comparing medical treatments, including drugs, head-to-head.

Ex-Commerce pick Gregg still welcome at the White House

WASHINGTON – New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg certainly irked the White House by accepting the nomination to be Commerce secretary and then withdrawing, but it seems he is still welcome at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

President Barack Obama on Monday will host a summit on “fiscal responsibility” at the White House which is aimed at addressing the long-term issues like the costly Social Security retirement program and Medicare health care system and Gregg said he has accepted an invitation to attend.
gregg2Gregg, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee,  withdrew last week as the Commerce secretary nominee because of fundamental policy differences with the Democratic Obama administration, particularly over the economy.
Even so, it seems that both sides have agreed to move on and even work together.
“Reform is urgently needed, especially as long-term entitlement spending threatens to strangle our economy, and action must be taken sooner rather than later,” Gregg said in a statement.
“I will certainly do everything I can to work with the president and others in Congress to set a course for the long-run that addresses the issue of how we pass on to our children a government they can afford,” he said.

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- Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama in early February with Gregg.)