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January 24, 2006

Why Dems Should Fight Corruption on Health Care

The Dems seem to be getting ready to run in 2006 on the corruption scandal. The real question is, will they have the guts/brains to connect the dots to an issue Americans care about -- health care. The obvious place to start is the Medicare drug benefit fiasco, which is endangering the health and lives of thousands of Americans. But there are plenty of other places to fight. Here's one from today's Washington Post:

House and Senate GOP negotiators, meeting behind closed doors last month to complete a major budget-cutting bill, agreed on a change to Senate-passed Medicare legislation that would save the health insurance industry $22 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office....

The change in the Medicare provision underscores a practice that growing numbers of lawmakers from both parties want addressed. More than ever, Republican congressional lawmakers and leaders are making vital decisions, involving far-reaching policies and billions of dollars, without the public -- or even congressional Democrats -- present.....

"I have worked many [budget] bills, and this was the most closed that I've ever seen," said one prominent Republican health care lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing his access to Congress.Another health care lobbyist, not involved with the issue, said the result was a major victory for health insurers: "That's a $22 billion difference; $22 billion is a lot of money."

If the Dems have any spine left, they should ram this issue down the Republican's throats. Of course, they would have to actually offer an alternative. It would be great if they would do a push to make health care affordable for all. But even going after the absurd influence the health care industry has over Medicare spending would be a great start. Conservatives have been arguing that we're going to have to cut back dramatically on Medicare spending in the next few decades so the government goesn't go bankrupt. As this fiasco demonstrates, there's plenty of room for saving money without hurting seniors. All the Dems would have to do is fight for a bill that brought back the $22 billion in savings and pushed for changes that would make it harder for the health care industry to keep robbing taxpayers.

Posted by RalphTaylor at January 24, 2006 06:09 AM