Senate Democrats Hone Health Care Message Ahead of August Recess
Senate Democrats on Wednesday held a two-hour meeting to discuss strategies for promoting health reform over the August congressional recess, The Hill reports.
The lawmakers heard presentations from:
- Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.);
- Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.);
- Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.); and
- White House Office of Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle (Young, The Hill, 8/5).
Baucus and Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) told the senators to emphasize that the chamber's reform proposals do not include an individual tax increase. In contrast, the House reform bill (HR 3200) would levy surtaxes on the highest-income residents (Budoff Brown, Politico, 8/6).
According to The Hill, many attendees emerged from the meeting confident that a pledge not to increase taxes on U.S. residents will be a "winner" in discussions with their constituents during the recess (The Hill, 8/5).
According to the New York Times, some Senate Democrats had expressed concerns that the chamber had yet to produce a unified reform bill that they could promote during the recess. The House bill already has advanced through a series of committee markups and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has passed its bill.
Dodd said that although there is not a completed Senate bill, "there is something for people to talk about in very concrete terms. And I think we ought to," adding, "Just saying, 'Look, we don't have a bill yet' leaves the field to those who want to accuse us of killing older people and nationalizing health care with a government-run plan" (Herszenhorn/Pear, New York Times, 8/6).
Dodd also encouraged his colleagues to remind their constituents that the HELP Committee's bill emphasizes a ban on coverage denials to people with pre-existing conditions, tax credits for small businesses, a focus on preventive and wellness programs and lower insurance premiums (Politico, 8/6).The bevy of meetings this week to prepare Senate Democrats' health reform message over the break will continue on Thursday, when lawmakers are scheduled to meet with senior White House adviser David Axelrod (The Hill, 8/5). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.