Tales from the Trail

CBO: Good news, bad news on Republican healthcare plan

The Congressional Budget Office, Congress’ non-partisan score keeper on the cost of legislation, has some good news for Republicans and the alternative healthcare proposal they plan to offer in the House of Representatives. Their plan would save the federal budget deficit $68 billion over 10 years and on average reduce insurance premiums compared to what they would be under current law.

protests“Under Republican health care reforms, premiums will go down, making coverage more affordable for families and employers, which is the first step to reducing the number of uninsured Americans,” said Republican Representative Dave Camp.

The proposal is far more limited in scope than the sweeping healthcare overhaul written by Democrats that the House is expected to debate on Saturday. The Republican proposal would provide for the sale of insurance coverage across state lines and calls for medical malpractice lawsuit reforms.

The proposal would also provide incentives to states to encourage them to review their insurance rules and mandates to find ways to reduce costs and expand medical coverage.

Now the bad news. The proposal would reduce the rolls of the uninsured by about 3 million in 2019, leaving about 52 million people without medical coverage, the CBO said. Also, the CBO said that premiums for some people, mostly the less healthy, would go up, feeding into Democratic criticisms that the Republican plan would allow insurers to “cherry pick” and enroll healthier, less costly people.

Democrats fire back at Republican health plan

Democrats, who have been on the defensive in a partisan battle over their sweeping healthcare overhaul, are firing back now that Republicans are preparing an alternative in the U.S. House of Representatives.hoyer-and-pelosiHouse Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters that Republicans will get a vote on their proposal when the House considers the Democratic-written legislation possibly later this week.Hoyer, a Democrat, did not shy away from offering his own opinion about the Republican bill, saying it would allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines and would “gut consumer protections and encourage a race to the bottom.”Republicans argue the provision would inject more competition into the market and help lower premiums. But Hoyer said insurers would flock to states with the fewest consumer protections, sell their policies at low prices and that many consumers would discover in the middle of a health crisis that their policies don’t offer adequate protection.Other provisions in the bill, as outlined by House Republican Leader John Boehner, would encourage insurers to “cherry pick” and enroll the healthiest people, Hoyer said.The Republican proposal also leaves out major market reforms contained in the Democratic bill that would bar insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging more based on medical history.A summary of the House Republican proposal is to be made available here.Boehner argued that the Republican plan aims to rein in soaring insurance premiums, but Hoyer and other Democrats say it would do little to expand coverage or make healthcare more affordable.”It doesn’t provide for insurance availability for all Americans,” Hoyer said. “It does little to expand access to coverage or address the $1,000 to $1,100 extra that every American is paying for people who do not have coverage and therefore add to the uncompensated care in hospitals.”Click here for more Reuters political coveragePhoto credit:  Reuters/Joshua Roberts (House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is greeted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi at healthcare event)

No sequel to ‘cash for clunkers’ but…

While the $3 billion “Cash for Clunkers” blockbuster is over, Congress is not finished with Detroit. AUTOS/

No one is talking about a “Return of Clunker” or “Son of Clunker” sequel, but it still looks as if car companies will renew their part in the congressional agenda even as another humongous production — healthcare — threatens to swallow the Capitol whole.

A priority for Democrats everywhere is to push the benefits of economic stimulus and pound the podium on job creation. Thursday, the focus is on the future of manufacturing in the economically hard-hit Midwest — a battleground in any election scenario.

Hoyer draws jeers, cheers at healthcare town hall

It was the largest town hall meeting of his career, and the crowd of 1,500 was raucous and ready.

When the Democratic leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, Steny Hoyer, arrived to promote healthcare overhaul, they pounced. FINANCIAL/

“You’re late,” a woman roared. Hoyer showed up nine minutes behind schedule for the meeting in Waldorf, Maryland.

The First Draft: health care heat wave

USA/The temperature’s heading toward 100 in Washington, and things are getting hotter in the debate over health care too, even with Congress out of town for the traditional August recess and President Barack Obama in Mexico for the so-called Three Amigos summit.

Taking aim at the orchestrated — or not — attacks on congressional supporters of the Obama health care plan, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer struck back in an opinion piece in USAToday: “Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades.”

The two top House Democrats aren’t commenting in a vacuum. Obama’s Saturday radio and Web address focused on the “outlandish” tactics of some opponents of health care reform.

House Republicans won’t change ‘Change’ slogan

WASHINGTON – House of Representatives Republican Leader John Boehner says he has no plans to alter a new campaign slogan — “Change you deserve” — that has been widely mocked since the phrase is used to market the anti-depressant drug Effexor.

rtr1xlet.jpg“I think it’s working out just fine,” a smiling Boehner told reporters when asked about the slogan that has become the butt of jokes on Capitol Hill.

The slogan is part of a new effort by House Republicans “to fix Washington,” outline plans to help Americans and raise their floundering election-year prospects of retaking control of the legislative body from Democrats.