CONGRESS: The Race Is On To Pass Managed Care Reforms
Republican leaders on Capitol Hill will push this week to make headway on managed care reform legislation, hoping to curb what has been a frustrating battle between party rank-and-file and the nation's business community. The Baltimore Sun reports that GOP leaders are struggling to find a balance between the concerns of Republican allies in the business community and party members who want to answer constituents' worries about rising costs and dwindling patient protections in the managed care industry. And they must contend with ideology as well -- managed care reforms go against the traditional GOP grain of resisting government regulation of the private sector. But Republicans also are looking ahead to the fall elections, when they fear "Democrats will snatch the issue and club Republicans with it" should the GOP not move on the issue. If the House GOP task force charged with producing managed care legislation does not come through soon, the Sun reports, party leaders "fear their members will desert party ranks to vote with Democrats." And Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA), sponsor of the popular Patient Access To Responsible Care Act, "has threatened to launch a petition drive in the House next month to force a vote on his managed care legislation" (Weisman, 6/15).
Gingrich Touts Tax Breaks
In a speech to the American Diabetes Association in Chicago Friday, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) proposed a system of tax incentives that would reward "people who remain healthy on their own by exercising and regulating their diet." Gingrich said he had slimmed down by watching what he eats and walking on a treadmill each morning. "Why is it so uncommon to say to every American, 'is it better to be healthy than sick'?" he asked. The ADA recognized Gingrich's work in fighting the disease, including his support of Medicare expansion for diabetes patients (Mendell, Chicago Tribune, 6/13).