Sunday, February 28, 2010

Iowa's Cynical Senator Grassley Asks What's the Point of Negotiating on Health Care Reform

From an interview with Republican Iowa Senator Charles Grassley following the health care summit at the White House this past week.

QUESTION: Yes, I'm just wondering a little bit about the health care summit yesterday. What's your biggest concern after that all happened?

GRASSLEY: The same concern going in, that not much would come out of it. I was hopeful that it would. But I'll tell you, what kind of dictated to me in being cynical about much coming out of it was that over the weekend -- or on Monday, I guess it was, the President put up a program that was pretty much like the bill that passed the Senate.

And when he put up a bill like that, you kind of wonder, well, what's the point of negotiating, you know?

Maybe sprinkle in a couple Republican ideas, and you've got a bipartisan bill? Well, I don't think so.

But -- and the other one was that they were talking about reconciliation, which means don't have the Senate function like it normally sits as a deliberate -- deliberating body, just push something through. Instead of with 60 votes, make sure you got at least 51, and you can do things in a partisan way.

And I think the end result is to move ahead in a partisan way, which is probably the same thing that Reid and Pelosi were talking about, you know, before the meeting ever started.

But I thought it was a very worthwhile six and a half hours of discussion.

Although the President talked -- President and Democrats talked four hours and Republicans only got an opportunity to talk two hours, it was still a healthy exchange of views and understanding.

And it's a very complicated issue. So the more you talk about it, the better off the country is, but it's what policy comes out.

And most of us have looked at the -- the program that passed the Senate, and if you were visiting with a group of people about health care reform with the emphasis upon reform and I told you this bill raised taxes, raised premiums, didn't do anything about health care inflation, took half a trillion dollars out of Medicare that's already broke, you'd probably say to me, "Well, that's doesn't sound much like reform."

And that's the way the American people have seen this product, and that's why on a -- on a poll of about 37 for and 55 against it, it's why I'm taking the position that we need to start over with a clean sheet of paper and do things a little more incrementally.

Comment: And what do Senator Grassley's constituents think about health care reform? He appeared at a town hall in Clarinda, Iowa just a week before the summit. Not all of them agree as reported by the Clarinda Herald Journal:

The first questioner was Lisa Lovig, Red Oak, who asked Grassley very specific questions about the difficulty some Americans – including her son – have in obtaining and keeping affordable healthcare because of private industry requirements, such as pre-existing conditions. Lovig noted that just having a pre-diagnosed health issue can limit both care and employment options for people like her son.

Jennifer Herrington, Clarinda, noted that she was disappointed in the tone of discussion about healthcare issues and reform. She said Page County may be sending a mixed message.

"We need to be consistent in what we say we believe in and what we don't," she said. "We have been working to keep the Clarinda Mental Health Institute open and MHI is socialized medicine – so do we believe in it only when it's local?"

The Clarinda MHI is a state facility and faces the possibility of closure by legislators concerned about the state budget. The legislator in particular who proposed the closing is a Democratic State Senator from Des Moines.

The town of Clarinda also has a regional community hospital. Of course, that hospital depends for its existence on medicare reimbursements and subsidies for rural hospitals. It is governed by an elected board of 5 local citizens. That's right, the board that oversees the hospital has to run for election. They would say that is not socialized, that is democratized.

And if someone gets sick and can't afford an expensive operation or treatment, you should see the Clarinda community kick into gear. They wouldn't call that socialized medicine either, they would call that being Christian.

And so it goes. I think small town Republicans do believe in socialized medicine when it is local. You can call that hypocritical, but it is really quite consistent. Their concern about government takeover is about faraway bureaucrats in Washington, DC.

No comments: