Democrats Divided over Health Care; Even Some Liberals Are Afraid of Socializing the Medical Industry

Article excerpt

Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Democrats are running into one problem after another trying to pass the health care bill in the Senate. Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, blames the ideological battle driven by the right wing of the Republican Party, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, says Republicans are stalling the health care bill because obstruction is a cash cow for their party. This rhetoric is blarney because there are enough Democrats in the Senate to pass the bill without a single Republican vote. The real holdup on government health care is division within the Democratic party.

Despite all the media gushing over a compromise among Democrats regarding the public option, no one but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid knows exactly what the compromise will contain, let alone whether skittish Democrats will buy into it. Even the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, had to confess on Friday in response to Sen. John McCain, I would say to the senator from Arizona that I am in the dark almost as much as he is, and I am in the leadership.

But this much is known: The Democratic bill will not reduce health care costs. Richard S. Foster, chief actuary of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, reported on Friday that the current Reid bill would add $235 billion in spending. The death knell for the proposal probably came Friday when Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, told Mr. Reid that he couldn't support the dramatic proposed expansion of Medicare coverage.

There is yet another stumbling block that involves Democrats: the issue of drug reimportation. As a candidate, Barack Obama promised last year that when he became president, Americans would be able to buy drugs sold in other countries. However, now that he's in the White House, he has changed his mind and cut a deal with the pharmaceutical companies, which in return promised to spend at least $150 million to push his party's health care legislation. …