DNC - Big, Big Week for Health Insurance Reform

Strong CBO Report, Positive Poll Numbers for the President, Bad Polls for the Republicans and a Parade of Republican Leaders Coming Out for Reform Provides Significant Momentum for Reform and Puts the "Party of No" on Its Heels


"...we've got to do something. I don't want the Republicans putting up a 'no' sign and saying, 'we're not open for business.'"  Former Republican Senate Majority Leader and Presidential Candidate Bob Dole, October 7, 2009

Marking continued progress and significant momentum towards reform, the CBO’s analysis of the Senate Finance Committee bill yesterday confirmed that the President is on-track to achieve his goals of reducing cost, increasing competition and reforming this country’s broken health insurance system – and opposition talking points on spending and the rising debt were dealt a severe blow with CBO estimates showing that the bill would reduce the deficit by $81 billion over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, the President’s approval rating continues to rise and polls show that Americans are beginning to see the Party Of NO’s overtly partisan effort to ‘kill’ health insurance reform for what it is -  a new Quinnipiac poll finds a whopping 64 percent of the country disapproves of the obstructionist strategy employed by congressional Republicans.

While Democrats continue to move forward with land-mark legislation to curb sky-rocketing health insurance costs and end insurance discrimination, the Republican strategy of "Just Say 'NO'" is unraveling as a number of Republicans from outside the beltway have backed insurance reform.  The backing of these Republicans undermines the notion that opposition from congressional leaders was based conservative principles and proves that it is, instead, based on partisan politics.  But then again, when you stand for nothing, how can you really expect anyone, even members of your own party, to stand with you?


New York Times “Health Care Bill Gets Green Light in Cost Analysis”: The Senate Finance Committee legislation to revamp the health care system would provide coverage to 29 million uninsured Americans but would still pare future federal deficits by slowing the growth of spending on medical care, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.  The much-anticipated cost analysis showed the bill meeting President Obama’s main requirements, including his demand that health legislation not add “one dime to the deficit.” Indeed, the budget office said, the bill would reduce deficits by a total of $81 billion in the decade starting next year.  The report clears the way for the Finance Committee chairman, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, to push for a panel vote within the next few days, and sets the stage for Democrats to take legislation to the floor for debate by the full Senate this month.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/health/policy/08health.html?_r=1&hp

Washington Post “Health-Care Bill Wouldn't Raise Deficit, Report Says”: Congressional budget analysts gave an important political boost Wednesday to a Senate panel's health-care overhaul, projecting that the $829 billion measure would dramatically shrink the ranks of the uninsured and keep President Obama's pledge that doing so would not add "one dime" to federal budget deficits.  With the report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the measure crafted by the Senate Finance Committee has emerged as the only one of five bills by various panels that achieves every important goal Obama has set for his top domestic initiative.  Snowe said Wednesday that she was relieved to see that the cost of expanding coverage remained below Obama's limit of $900 billion over the next decade.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/07/AR2009100704078.html

Wall Street Journal “New Math Boosts Health Plan”: The latest Senate health bill will cost $829 billion over a decade and slightly reduce the federal budget deficit, congressional budget crunchers said Wednesday, marking a major step forward for Democrats' plans to overhaul American health care.  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found the sweeping measure will cover 94% of nonelderly legal U.S. residents, up from about 83% currently. The bill will cut the deficit by $81 billion over the 10-year period, owing to trims in Medicare spending and new taxes.  The widely awaited report paves the way for the Senate Finance Committee to approve its bill in the next few days.  After appearing in peril in August, the health-care overhaul has cleared a series of hurdles in recent weeks that have given Democrats increased confidence they will pass a bill. Lobbyists on both sides of the issue have shifted their focus to what the bill will look like rather than questioning whether a measure can succeed. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125494356104171425.html

Politico “Baucus scores big with CBO”: President Barack Obama’s push for health care reform cleared a major hurdle Wednesday when congressional scorekeepers found that the Senate Finance Committee’s bill matches key parts of Obama’s wish list — cutting costs and expanding coverage, all without busting the budget.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated the legislation would cost $829 billion over 10 years, bringing it well within the president’s $900 billion target and clearing the way for a committee vote by the weekend. But the analysis was as good as the White House or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could have wanted. The Baucus bill came in under budget, covers 94 percent of American citizens, reduces the deficit by $81 billion after 10 years and continues to rack up savings in the second 10 years.  The estimate removes a major hurdle toward a vote in the committee, because senators ­— in particular, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who could be the only Republican senator to support the legislation — said they needed to see the cost breakdown before taking up the bill. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1009/28049.html#ixzz0TMJqVNKb

Associated Press “Budget experts say proposal would cover 94 percent of Americans”: Health care legislation drafted by a key Senate committee would expand coverage to 94 percent of all eligible Americans at a 10-year cost of $829 billion, congressional budget experts said Wednesday, a preliminary estimate likely to power the measure past a major hurdle within days. The Congressional Budget Office added that the measure would reduce federal deficits by $81 billion over a decade and probably lead to "continued reductions in federal budget deficits" in the years beyond. The report paves the way for the Senate Finance Committee to vote as early as Friday on the legislation, which is largely in line with President Barack Obama's call for the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system in a half-century. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33214558/ns/politics-health_care_reform/

Politics Daily “CBO: Health Care Reform Will Cut Deficit”: The Congressional Budget Office has released its much-awaited estimate on the cost of the health care reform bill drafted by the Senate Finance Committee. Doug Elmendorf, the CBO director, estimated the bill will cost $829 billion over 10 years and will expand insurance coverage to 94 percent of Americans. Most important for fiscal conservatives on the committee, the measure is expected to reduce the overall federal budget deficit by $81 billion over the decade because reforms will cut the cost of health care overall.  http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/10/07/cbo-health-care-reform-will-cut-deficit/

Los Angeles Times “Baucus healthcare bill would lower the deficit, analysts say”: Senate Democrats pushing healthcare legislation received a boost Wednesday from congressional budget experts, who estimated that a bill being debated by the Senate Finance Committee would substantially expand coverage and lower the federal deficit. 
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office calculated that the legislation, written by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), would cost $829 billion by 2019. But because that tab would be offset by spending cuts elsewhere and by new revenue, the bill actually would lower the deficit by $81 billion over the next decade -- and potentially even more in later years -- the budget office concluded. At the same time, the bill would expand the percentage of Americans with health insurance from 83% to 94%, according to the estimate.  The preliminary CBO report sets the stage for the finance panel to vote on Baucus' healthcare blueprint later this week or next -- a key step in the Democratic campaign to send President Obama a healthcare overhaul bill by the end of the year.  All of the Democratic Party's major healthcare bills would help more Americans get benefits by expanding Medicaid, the joint federal-state insurance program for the poor, and by creating highly regulated insurance marketplaces in which people could shop for insurance. Millions of those customers would qualify for government subsidies.  http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-healthcare-cbo8-2009oct08,0,822265.story



Wall Street Journal “Quinnipiac: Most Americans Support Public Option”:  Democrats received a boost in the health care debate on Capitol Hill Wednesday when budget crunchers said the Senate bill will cost $829 billion over 10 years and slightly reduce the budget deficit. And today, Democrats can find some encouraging poll data in the latest Quinnipiac survey on national attitudes on the health care overhaul. Including a government-run insurance option — the most controversial part of the debate — is supported by a nearly two-to-one margin, 61%-34%. The public option registers a majority level of support despite the fact that by 47%-40% Americans said they oppose the president’s health care plan overall. Meanwhile, Republicans registered their lowest approval ratings since President Barack Obama was elected: 64% of voters said they disapprove of the way congressional Republicans are doing their job, including 42% of Republican voters. Voters also continue to trust the president over Republicans by a 47%-31% margin when it comes to health care.  http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2009/10/08/quinnipiac-most-americans-support-public-option/

Bloomberg “Voters Back Obama Over Republicans on Health Care, Poll Finds”: Months of Republican attacks on President Barack Obama’s health-care proposals appear to have hurt the party, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.   The survey found 64 percent of voters disapproving of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their jobs, with 25 percent approving. Also, 53 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the party in general, while 25 percent rated it favorably. Asked who they trusted to do a better job on the health- care issue, 47 percent said Obama, 31 percent said the Republicans. The president’s overall approval rating was 50 percent, unchanged from a similar survey in late July and early August.  The poll found voters support a government-run plan to compete with private insurers 61 percent to 34 percent. Obama backs creating such a program, which has been the focus of much of the health-care debate in Congress. House and Senate Democrats are divided over the proposal, known as the public option, while most Republicans oppose it.  http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aw2PamI0GqrU


Politico “Obama's approval ratings climb”: President Barack Obama’s approval rating has risen to 56 percent in the latest AP-GfK poll, up from 50 percent in September and the first time since January that his approval has gone up in the poll. Thirty-nine percent said they disapprove of his job performance — down from 49 percent last month.  Among the poll’s other findings: 41 percent say the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 37 percent who said so in September; 50 percent approved of Obama’s handling of the economy, and 48 percent approved of his handling of health care. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1009/28050.html#ixzz0TMY6n1W3


Washington Post’s The Fix “The Most Important Number in Politics Today”:  Despite the ongoing battle in Congress over health care -- where President Barack Obama got a nice boost yesterday with the release of the Congressional Budget Office's cost assessment of the Senate plan -- just 18 percent of Americans named it as the most pressing issue in America. No other issue scored in double digits.  http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/most-important-number/the-most-important-number-in-p-46.html?wprss=thefix


Huffington Post: “Health Care Poll: AP Finds Growing Support For Overhaul”: The fever has broken. The patient is out of intensive care. But if you're President Barack Obama, you can't stop pacing the waiting room. Health care overhaul is still in guarded condition.  The latest Associated Press-GfK poll has found that opposition to Obama's health care remake dropped dramatically in just a matter of weeks. Still, Americans remain divided over complex legislation that Democrats are advancing in Congress.  The public is split 40-40 on supporting or opposing the health care legislation, the poll found. An even split is welcome news for Democrats, a sharp improvement from September, when 49 percent of Americans said they opposed the congressional proposals and just 34 percent supported them.   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/07/health-care-poll-ap-finds_n_312151.html

US News & World Report “Less Opposition to U.S. Health Care Reform Plans: Poll”: Opposition to President Barack Obama's health care reforms has decreased significantly in the past few weeks, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.  The poll found a 40-40 split in opposition or support for the health care overhaul, compared with 49 percent opposition and 34 percent support in early September. Opposition among older Americans dropped 16 percentage points, from 59 percent to 43 percent. The poll also found that support among Democrats increased from 57 percent to 68 percent, while opposition from independents decreased from 51 percent to 36 percent.  http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2009/10/07/health-highlights-oct-7--2009.html

New York Daily News “Obama Inches Up in AP Poll”: Congress’ approval ratings may be headed south, but President Obama’s have spiked upwards for the first time in the Associated Press poll. The AP/GfK survey out today finds Obama’s approval rating at 56%, compared to 50% last month. He had been sliding steadily in the survey since his inauguration.  The uptick is driven by an improvement in how people feel the President is handling the economy and his health care reforms. Fifty percent of voters now say they like his economic efforts, up six points from last month. And they narrowly approve of the health reform push, 48% to 47%, representing another healthy jump. http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dc/2009/10/obama-inches-up-in-ap-poll.html#ixzz0TMTkuNm4


Politics Daily “Obama's Approval Ratings Rise”: Most national polls recently have had President Obama's job approval rating trending down, but an Associated Press/GfK survey conducted Oct. 1-5 showed his numbers have increased from 50 percent in September to 56 percent. Those who disapproved dropped from 49 percent to 39 percent.  Forty-eight percent approved of his handling of health care policy, up six points… AP polling on health care found Americans split at 40 percent each on whether they support or oppose the plans being discussed in Congress. In early September, after a month of attacks on the reform proposals, 49 percent oppose the measures and 34 percent supported them. http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/10/07/obamas-approval-ratings-rise/




Bloomberg: “Months Of Republicans Attacks On President Barack Obama’s Health Care Proposals Appear To Have Hurt The Party.” “Months of Republican attacks on President Barack Obama’s health-care proposals appear to have hurt the party, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.  The survey found 64 percent of voters disapproving of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their jobs, with 25 percent approving. Also, 53 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the party in general, while 25 percent rated it favorably.” [Bloomberg, 10/8/09]


USA Today: National Republican Support For Health Reform Causing “A Policy-VS-Politics Rift Inside GOP.” “Their names carry weight. They include former Senate majority leaders Bob Dole and Bill Frist, a heart surgeon; Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a health policy expert; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, now an independent; and Mark McClellan, former administrator of Medicare and Medicaid from 2004-06. As former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards, currently a lecturer on public affairs at Princeton, puts it: "The grown-ups are beginning to speak up." Their columns, interviews and statements have created a policy-vs.-politics rift inside the GOP… "The goal isn't to cripple a presidency. The goal is to take care of people's problems getting health insurance," Edwards says.” [USA Today, 10/8/09]


New York Times: Another National Republican, Bob Dole, Joins Growing List Of Republicans Calling For Reform. “Bob Dole, the one-time Republican leader in the Senate, and Tom Daschle, the one-time Democratic leader, issued a joint statement today in which they said they supported the Democrats’ attempt to overhaul the health-care system. ‘The American people have waited decades, and if this moment passes us by, it may be decades more before there is another opportunity,’ the two former leaders said in a joint statement.” [New York Times, 10/7/09]


… And Congressional Leaders Try Desperately, But Fail, To Stop Him. “Mr. Dole told reporters earlier in the day in Kansas that the current Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, had asked him not to lend his support to the Democratic effort. According to an account in The Kansas City Star, Mr. Dole said that he had been approached by the Mr. McConnell and asked not to issue a statement calling for passage of a health-care reform bill. ‘We’re already hearing from some high-ranking Republicans that we shouldn’t do that — that’s helping the president,’ Mr. Dole said. He added that these included one ‘very prominent Republican, who happens to be the Republican leader of the Senate.’” [New York Times, 10/7/09]


RedState: Conservative Blogs Start To Panic Over Worries That Senate Republicans Are “Folding Over Health Care Reform.” “I am told quite reliably that in a meeting today on Capitol Hill, Republican Senators began to rapidly move toward concessions on health care because they are afraid they cannot hold their members. Some Republicans are now thinking of supporting a government program. Go to the action center and start calling. Already, Senate Democrats are looking to pass healthcare by attaching it to unrelated legislation — the back door Brian Darling has repeatedly warned us about. Republicans are starting to waver on this. Call now. Tell the GOP to stand firm in opposition to the Democrats’ health care plans.” [RedState, 10/7/09]


USA Today: “Division Fizzes Up Within GOP Over Resistance To Health Plan.” “The scene is familiar: Republicans criticizing Washington's inaction on health care. Only now, they're blaming Republicans. Concerned that their party may prevent progress on one of the nation's most intractable problems, several governors and former Washington power brokers are calling on Republicans in Congress to help pass a health care bill.” [USA Today, 10/8/09]




Sen. Dole: “I want This To Pass…I Don’t Agree With Everything Obama Is Presenting, But We’ve Got To Do Something…I Don’t Want The Republicans Putting Up A ‘No’ Sign And Saying, ‘We’re Not Open For Business.’” Former Senate Majority Leader Bob “Dole, to his credit, is having none of it. ‘I want this to pass,’ he said. ‘I don't agree with everything Obama is presenting, but we've got to do something.’ He added: ‘I don't want the Republicans putting up a “no” sign and saying, “we're not open for business.”’” [Kansas City Star, 10/7/09]


Gov. Schwarzenegger: “I Appreciate [The President’s] Partnership With The States And Encourage Our Colleagues On Both Sides Of The Political Aisle At The National Level To Move Forward And Accomplish [Health Reform].” Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger said in a statement, “[a]s Governor, I have made significant efforts to advance health reform in California. As the Obama Administration was launching the current debate on health care reform, I hosted a bipartisan forum in our state because I believe in the vital importance of this issue, and that it should be addressed through bipartisan cooperation. Our principal goals, slowing the growth in costs, enhancing the quality of care delivered, improving the lives of individuals, and helping to ensure a strong economic recovery, are the same goals that the president is trying to achieve. I appreciate his partnership with the states and encourage our colleagues on both sides of the political aisle at the national level to move forward and accomplish these vital goals for the American people.” [New York Times, 10/6/09]


ABC News: Bloomberg “Wholeheartedly Adopts The Obama White House Definition Of ‘Bipartisanship,’” In His Support For Congressional Health Reform Plans. ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos reported on Mayor Bloomberg’s full-throated support of health reform: “‘The health reform proposal that Congress will shortly consider is shaping up to merit broad, bipartisan support, said Mayor Bloomberg. ‘The approach has great potential to reduce costs for families, businesses and government at every level over the long term, while extending coverage to many millions of the uninsured and investing in proven, cost-effective public health strategies. This is an approach that Republicans, Democrats and Independents can and should support,’ he added. Most interestingly, Bloomberg wholeheartedly adopts the Obama White House definition of ‘bipartisanship.’” [ABC News, 10/5/09]


Mayor Bloomberg Statement: “This Is An Approach That Republicans, Democrats And Independents Can And Should Support.” In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “[t]he health reform proposal that Congress will shortly consider is shaping up to merit broad, bipartisan support, incorporating Republican ideas and earning deserved support from Republican leaders such as former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The approach has great potential to reduce costs for families, businesses and government at every level over the long term, while extending coverage to many millions of the uninsured and investing in proven, cost-effective public health strategies. This is an approach that Republicans, Democrats and Independents can and should support.” [Politico, 10/5/09]


Sen. Frist: “I Would End Up Voting For It…As Leader, I Would Take Heat For It…That’s What Leadership Is All About.” Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told Time magazine that, “[w]ere he still in the Senate, ‘I would end up voting for it,’ he said. ‘As leader, I would take heat for it. ... That's what leadership is all about.’” [Time, 10/2/09]


Former Bush HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson: “Failure To Reach An Agreement On Health Reform This Year Is Not An Acceptable Option.” Tommy Thompson & Dick Gephardt said in a joint statement: “Failure to reach an agreement on health reform this year is not an acceptable option. Inaction will only increase the burden of rapidly rising health care costs and care denied for millions of American families. Inaction will increase the crushing burden of rising health costs on American businesses that are struggling to create jobs and lead America’s economic recovery. It is time for action.” [Politico Live Pulse, 10/5/09]


Former Bush HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson: Senate Finance Committee Bill Will Move “Us Down The Path Of Providing Affordable High-Quality Health Care For All.” Tommy Thompson & Dick Gephardt said in a joint statement: “[t]he bill that the Senate Finance Committee will vote out for consideration by the full Senate this week is another important step toward achieving the goal of health care reform this year. It moves us down the path of providing affordable high-quality health care for all and expanding coverage for millions.” [Politico Live Pulse, 10/5/09]


Sen. Frist Now Makes “Three Former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Who Have Endorsed The Sorts Of Reforms President And His Allies Are Pushing…For All Of The Crazy Talk About A Radical Government Takeover, Health Care Reform 2009 Is An Amalgam Of Compromises.” Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic noted that, “[f]or those keeping a tally, that's three former Republican Senate Majority Leaders who have endorsed the sorts of reforms President Obama and his allies are pushing. Previously, Howard Baker and Bob Dole signed on to a plan they negotiated with Tom Daschle and George Mitchell, former Democratic counterparts, through the auspices of the Biparitsan Policy Center. And this is as it should be. For all of the crazy talk about a radical government takeover, health care reform 2009 is an amalgam of compromises, many based on ideas taken straight from former Republican proposals--the kind of proposal, in other words, at least a few Republicans should be able to embrace in good faith. Now if only some currently serving members of the party could take a cue from the retired elder statesmen...” [The New Republic, 10/2/09]


Chamber Of Commerce: “The Reality With The Business Community Is That We Want Reform, While Some Republicans Want To Stop This Train And Start Over…That Is Just Not Going To Happen.” The Wall Street Journal reported on the Chamber Of Commerce’s relatively positive reaction to Chairman Baucus’ health reform proposal: “‘The reality with the business community is that we want reform, while some Republicans want to stop this train and start over,’ said Bruce Josten, the chamber's chief lobbyist. ‘That is just not going to happen.’” [Wall Street Journal, 9/25/09]

Former Bush Medicare Chief Mark McClellan Supports The Finance Committee Bill. "As for the Republicans, Thompson teamed with former House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D., Mo.) in citing some 'troublesome and unresolved' issues in the Finance Committee's bill. The two men urged Congress nevertheless to overcome its differences and get the job done. "Failure to reach an agreement on health reform this year is not an acceptable option," Thompson and Gephardt wrote. 'It is time for action.' Mark McClellan, like Thompson a prominent member of President George W. Bush's administration, also urged lawmakers to seize the moment. 'The health-care problems facing this country are urgent and large, and we need to do something about them,' said McClellan, a former Medicare and Medicaid administrator who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution. 'I don't want to miss this opportunity.'" [Washington Post, 10/6/09