Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Senator Lieberman won’t vote for the latest version of health care reform that was cobbled together in the Senate. Majority Leader Reid has to feel a bit like he’s been playing the part of Charlie Brown while Senator Lieberman is Lucy pulling the football away once again, just as the Leader is about to kick.
Yet as Charlotte Allen details over at Independent Women’s Voices, the Lieberman problem is just the beginning of Reid’s troubles. Several Senators (Sens. Lincoln, McCaskill, and Feingold) are saying that the Senate will have to go back to the drawing board if the CBO reports that the new draft creates more debt than the last one.
Reid doesn’t need to review all of the statements made by his nervous members to get a sense of why they are so skittish to get behind this bill: the polls on health care are an unmitigated disaster for Democrats. This report at Pajamas Media gives some of the highlights-or low lights from the Democrats point of view-of recent poll numbers:
Approval ratings for Congress are disastrous, and Democrats are the party in control of both branches of Congress. Finally, and most worrisome, are the numbers on health care reform. The disapproval ratings have soared in recent weeks, and not just the Fox News [oll. [sic]
Rasmussen has support for the reform bill at 41% and opposition at 51%. CNN/Opinion Dynamics had a shocking survey showing 36% support and 61% opposition, a more negative result than the Fox poll with 34% support and 57% opposition. Some Democrats have to wonder whether they will gain politically from pushing through a complex package of reforms with greatly increased federal spending, little evidence of any cost savings, and all the votes coming from their own party when 60% or more of the voting public think it is a bad idea.
This piece also does a good job describing a few of the reasons why the latest version of reform (and the entire health care reform endeavor) is so unpopular.
Medicare pays widely varying rates across the country, and if the program is expanded, the lower Medicare fee schedule would replace the higher private pay rates for anyone who becomes part of this coverage group. There have already been estimates that 10-20% of hospitals and providers could face financial difficulty because of the proposed Medicare cuts that are in the bill.
The 55-64 age group have far higher use rates (occasions of service per 1,000) than younger populations. As a result, the shift to a lower Medicare rate schedule would impact a far higher percentage of the caseload for providers than the percentage of the population represented by those covered by the new plan.
…The Senate bill would add 15 million enrollees to Medicaid. That is a new and very costly unfunded burden for the states, many of which are in grave financial difficulty already and don’t have the luxury of the federal government to print money and run up enormous annual deficits ($1.4 trillion for fiscal 2009; $1.5 trillion estimated for fiscal 2010).
Undoubtedly, Majority Leader Reid is frustrated by the likes of Senator Lieberman and his colleagues who keep throwing road blocks into his cause of passing a bill. Yet if they prevent a bad bill from passing, these Senators may end up saving Reid from himself to say nothing of sparing the American people costly and damaging changes to their health care system.