PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: Senate Democrats Blamed For Impasse
House Republicans are blaming Senate Democrats for the current impasse on patients' rights legislation, CongressDaily reports. A letter signed by House GOP health care task force Chair Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Ways and Means health subcommittee Chair Bill Thomas (R-CA) "and 14 other leading Republicans charged Senate Democrats with 'putting politics ahead of the American people.'" The letter cites comments by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) that "the final vote on basic protections will take place on election day," arguing that the statement indicates that "Democrats are looking for a political issue rather than a bill." In response to the Republicans' letter, Kennedy said, "House and Senate Republican leaders have no credibility on HMOs and managed care reform. ... I say, let's start the Senate debate on Aug. 31, as soon as the Senate returns to session -- and may the best ideas win" (Norton, 8/11).
On The Hustings
Rep. Jim Bunning (R-KY), the Republican nominee in Kentucky's Senate race, said Democrats' managed care reforms would "enrich trial lawyers." He particularly criticized Rep. Scotty Baesler (D-KY), the Democratic Senate nominee, for backing the Democratic approach over the GOP plan. "Scotty believes you can sue your way to better health care. What patients need are doctor appointments, not lawyer appointments, and that's what our bill gives them," he said. The Lexington Herald-Leader notes that "[a]n analysis of campaign finance records shows that Bunning has received money from insurers, while trial lawyers have been major backers of Baesler" (Muhs, 8/12).
Today's Bergen Record reports that Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) "staged some high political theater Tuesday, denouncing Republicans for a 'sham HMO reform bill' that could damage women's health care as the lawmakers sat with four newborns in the offices of the late doctor and poet William Carlos Williams." Lautenberg blasted the Senate GOP managed care bill, saying "it doesn't allow women to select an obstetrician/gynecologist as her primary-care doctor." And Rothman "said the House Republican measure would preempt various state mandates for people who get their coverage through small businesses" (Washburn, 8/12).