Finance Committee Dems No Rubber Stamp for Health Reform


This article is published in partnership with the Washington Independent, the Center for Independent Journalism and RH Reality Check.

With so much speculation on whether Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) will support the health reform bill finalized
by the Senate Finance Committee last week, the world might be surprised
to learn that some panel Democrats are also wary of the legislation.
Yet Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have both
“refused to pledge support” for the bill, The Washington Post reported today.

Wyden, who for years has pushed an enormous health reform strategy of his own
— one that would move the country away from employer-sponsored care —
tried unsuccessfully last week to attach an amendment granting
employees cash vouchers to shop around for insurance plans in lieu of
signing blindly to their companies’ plan.

“More needs to be done to hold insurance companies
accountable, to hold premiums down for the American people,” Wyden said
in an interview Sunday. “I want to continue these discussions.”

Wyden, the Post says, is in “intensive talks” with White House
officials and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to tweak the
bill.

Rockefeller, meanwhile, has been among the most vocal Senate proponents of the public plan, a government-administered insurance option to compete with private insurers. Proposals to create such a plan fell twice
during the Finance Committee’s debate, though Rockefeller and others
have vowed to try again when the bill hits the chamber floor. Indeed,
amendment opportunities (not to mention pressure from the White House)
will probably be enough to convince both Wyden and Rockefeller to vote
the bill out of the committee later this week.

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