Saturday, September 19, 2009

Nailing Health Care Reform to the Wall

The Vice president for public policy and research for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Barrett Duke, took his time in responding to President Obama's September 9 speech to Congress. In an article dated September 16, he asked, "Where is the President's Health Care Reform Bill?"

In August, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) released an Analysis of The House Health Care Bill, H.R. 3200. The analysis concluded, in part,

The simple fact is that if passed, no one can say for certain how badly this will all play out in practice. However, what we can say with absolute certainty is that this legislation will lead to diminished health care for most Americans, less choice, higher taxes, and unprecedented government intrusion into every level and aspect of society, from business, to education, to marriage, to individual liberty.

After the release of the ERLC's analysis, as the health care debate continued in Washington and in town hall meetings across the country, some Senators distanced themselves from the House resolution.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner has set up a Web page on information and resources concerning health care reform. Dates are not listed and therefore, based on Senator Warner's information, a timeline cannot be well established. At one point, under the banner of "Frequently asked questions," Warner, or his staff, answered the question,

Has Senator Warner read the text of the health care reform legislation?

...At the moment, the only version that is being discussed in public is the House version of the bill, which is just one of many health reform proposals in Congress. Once a final bill is introduced in the Senate, Senator Warner will read the bill and post it on our website so you can read it, too.

Warner's Web site indicated the bill which would eventually be considered in the Senate would be comprised of two different documents. One, a proposal from the Senate HELP Committee and the other from the Senate Finance Committee. At the time the answer to the above question was published, the Senate Finance Committee had not yet completed and released "America's Healthy Future Act of 2009." The committee noted it was "Scheduled for Markup By the Senate Committee on Finance On September 22, 2009," that document is 223 pages in length. The Senate HELP Committee proposal is 615 pages in length and can be read by following this link.

MSNBC reported in mid-July, a bipartisan group of Senators sought more time to write a bipartisan bill. At the time, the White House had imposed an August deadline to pass "the" health care reform bill. Such a statement seems to imply that the Senate, in mid-July was considering passage of the house resolution Congress had already passed.

In the MSNBC report, Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) indicated she wanted an opportunity to review "the" legislation over the August recess. She said she had reminded the president it took a year and a half to create the Medicare system.

I thought it was an interesting side-line that all of a sudden Senators were pretending that they didn't have a bill before the Senate to discuss, as though they never considered the house resolution for passage with a White House imposed deadline of August. It was almost as though, all of a sudden, during town hall meetings, they were trying to say the American people who had been debating the issue of health care reform were ignorant and didn't know what they were talking about because the Senate didn't even have a bill before them yet to read, let alone support. Geesh. The president wanted that house resolution rushed through the Senate and passed. He didn't care if anyone had read it. He didn't care if there was a debate. He simply wanted it passed in August before town hall meetings had even taken place.

Barrett complained in his September 16 article (from the ERLC), that he didn't know what plan Obama was talking about on September 9,

Many of the features he described do not exist in any of the bills Congress is working on. They aren’t in the liberal Democrats’ bills. They aren’t in any bill from the Blue Dog Democrats, who haven’t written one. They aren’t in the Republicans’ bills, and there are at least five that Republicans are trying to get people to notice.

Barrett did, however, deduce, "Evidently, President Obama has a health care reform plan."

It'd be nice to know what it is, wouldn't it? Then the American people wouldn't have to waste so much time trying to nail jell-o to the wall.

Barrett put it this way, in the conclusion of his article,

Obviously, the president has a health care reform plan. So where is it? When do we get to see it? I was encouraged by some of what I heard Wednesday night, but it doesn’t square with anything I’ve seen in Congress so far. Senator Tom Coburn made the same observation. He remarked, “It was a good speech, the problem is that what he wants and what they’ve written are two totally different things.” I agree. So I am looking for a bill that we can read to come from the White House. And here’s hoping that it doesn’t arrive DOA, just like all the current Democrat proposals.


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