March 7, 2010

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told ABC's Matthew Dowd that health care reform has been slowed by attempts to get support from Republicans. "I think part of the pace of this debate was a real attempt to have a bipartisan approach," said Sebelius.

(Nicole:) What a polite way to say "If the Republicans weren't such lying, fear-mongering obstructionists, we'd be in a much better place right now." And even with all the assistance the Republicans are receiving from the media, who NEVER challenge their oft-repeated meme that Americans don't want reform, a recent Gallup poll shows that Americans actually are seeing past the gamesmanship and trust Obama more than the Republicans.

This Gallup poll released yesterday notes:

Americans remain more confident in the healthcare reform recommendations of President Obama (49%) than in the recommendations of the Democratic (37%) or Republican (32%) leaders in Congress. But these confidence levels are lower than those measured in June, suggesting that the ongoing healthcare reform debate has taken a toll on the credibility of the politicians involved.

I'd imagine those numbers would be significantly higher if we didn't have such an enabling media, only too happy to mis-inform the public. As Plumline points out, the majority of those polled in key states support the public option over the watered down Senate bill.

SEBELIUS: Well, actually, I think part of the pace of this debate was a real attempt to have a bipartisan approach. The House bill had Republican support. In the Senate bill, there were months spent with six senators, three Republicans and three Democrats, in a room, negotiating, adding ideas to the bill, trying to figure out a strategy to move forward in a bipartisan fashion.

As you know, the Senate bill didn't pass 50 plus one, it passed with 60 votes, a supermajority, and I think the president would love to have Republican votes. What he has is lots of Republican ideas -- selling insurance across state lines, making sure that we crack down very aggressively on fraud and abuse, you know, moving forward.

But there is a fundamental difference. The Republicans feel strongly that insurance companies should have less regulation than they do now, less consumer protection, less oversight. The president feels strongly that we need to change the rules of the road, that we can no longer have a private health system where insurance companies get to pick and choose, where they can lock people out and price people out. And that's really one of the fundamental divides. And even though there are lots of Republican ideas in the bill, I'm not sure -- you know, we are hopeful that there will be Republican votes, but I'm not sure there will be.

So yes, in the strictest sense, the Republicans are correct: Americans are not happy about the Senate bill. But not because they don't want health care reform, but because they want a STRONGER bill. That's not going to happen if the Republicans have anything to do with it, so while the attempt to reach out for a bipartisan solution was admirable, it's long past the time to just get it done.

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