Delays in health care reform could have negative implications for inclusion of reproductive health coverage, by giving opponents more time to pressure conservatives in Congress to hew to their own ideological lines.
Nonetheless, it is clear that lacking agreement on cost containment, the basic design of health plans, the role of government involvement and coverage for reproductive health care, among other things, no bill will be done by tomorrow, one of the deadlines set by the President.
On Thursday, for example, a group of nine Democratic freshmen senators signed a
letter urging Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus to craft a bill that
gets “health care costs under control so we can compete in the global
marketplace.” Signatories included Democratic Senators Mark Warner of Virginia,
Michael Bennet and Mark Udall of Colorado, Mark Begich of Alaska,
Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Roland Burris of Illinois, Jeff
Merkley of Oregon, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Tom Udall of New
“In the face of exploding debt and deficits…we are concerned
that too little focus has been given to the need for cost containment,”
the senators wrote. “We believe that any final bill must include
innovation, hard decisions, and incentives to bend the cost curve.”
These and other concerns have given leadership no choice.
“It’s better to get a product that’s based on quality and thoughtfulness than on trying to just get something through,” Reid told reporters.
In the House, according to Politico, "Democratic leaders are also backing away from the August
deadline, a day after President Barack Obama encouraged Congress to
keep pushing on a national health care plan."
But, Politico states:
House Democrats seem to be sending mixed messages in their
predictions. In a closed door meeting Thursday morning, Majority Whip
Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), exhorted his colleagues to keep the House in
session through August, warning they would pay political consequences
for not getting something done on health care. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi
later said she’s not worried about such deadlines.
"I’m not afraid of August," Pelosi said. "It’s a month."
But clearly, states Politico:
Democrats are afraid of where the political conversation is
going on health care. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and
Obama’s top Hill liaison, Phil Schiliro, ducked into a meeting Thursday
afternoon with Blue Dog Democrats who have held up the House version of
Reid said the Senate would try to complete a package in the fall. And
he was merely confirming what Majority Whip Dick Durbin had said
Wednesday, when he said a bill would not be passed before the upper
chamber breaks for recess on August 7.
Women’s health advocates will have to work through the next two months to ensure that both the House and Senate return to the process committed to addressing their most basic health needs.