Medicare Matters

The Vote: The House Medicare vote last night was a nail-biter, with the bill passing around 2 a.m. by only one vote (216-215) after leaders spent the day strong-arming 18 stalwart conservatives.

The tension in the House was over whether measures would survive that would put Medicare on a genuine track to reform. The reforms stayed in the bill, and the real work now begins in conference to reconcile the better House bill with the much more flawed Senate version.

Senators already are warning that if the House insists on too much real reform, it could kill the deal in the Senate. So the battle lines are drawn.

You had to love the House and its impassioned debate last night – including fiery speeches about who loves their mothers most. Democrats once again accused Republicans of being out to ?Get Old People? (GOP). Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin fired back that no one loves his mother more than he does, and – with his blood pressure clearly rising – told of the huge sacrifices she made raising her family in poverty. Democrats said Republicans may love their mothers, ?but they should call them more often.?

Democrats wore black armbands to signify their belief that the House bill was the beginning of the Death of Medicare. California Democrat Pete Stark charged that the Republicans with being ?liars,? and one Republican said the Democrats were acting like ?Baghdad Bob? in their misinformation campaign.

Who ever said that health policy is boring?

The debate in both houses showed the huge ideological gaps between the two parties – with Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York voicing his colleagues’ belief and trust in government to continue to run Medicare while Tauzin, Ways and Means Chairman Thomas, and other Republicans were equally passionate about the power of markets and belief in consumers. On the Senate side, ten brave Republicans voted against the bill along with 11 Democrats, with a final 76-21 vote for passage.

The Survey: The Galen Institute’s survey on voter attitudes toward Medicare and a drug benefit received a great deal of attention during the debate. The survey showed that the president had been right from the beginning in saying that a stand-alone drug benefit was a bad idea and resources should be put into improving the program overall.

The poll, conducted for us last week by Zogby International, showed 82% of likely voters would like the option of a private health plan approved by Medicare, and 74% of seniors consider the Senate plan worse than their present coverage.

The Wall Street Journal featured our poll results yesterday in an editorial that was, once again, exactly on target (see below). The Journal deserves huge credit for its series of editorials exposing the dangers of the contrived and impossibly complex stand-alone drug benefits in both bills. ?They may believe they can make good politics out of bad policy, but in the long run, it may come back to haunt them,? the Journal concludes.

Bob Novak, our favorite syndicated columnist, also featured the poll in his column yesterday, published here in the Washington Post. Our data was used in Senate floor debate, Rush Limbaugh quoted the results yesterday as did NBC’s Today Show, I did an interview for National Public Radio, and am scheduled to appear on Kudlow & Kramer on CNBC on Tuesday night.

Medicare has been the consuming focus of the week for our colleagues as well. The articles below offer various perspectives, new data, and analyses of the Medicare legislation before Congress.

Finally, Health Policy Matters will take a break next week while Congress is in recess and will return July 11. Let us all take time next week to celebrate our cherished freedom and independence.

Grace-Marie Turner




Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit research organization focusing on ideas to promote free-market health reform. She can be reached at P.O. Box 19080, Alexandria, VA, 22320.

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The Vote: The House Medicare vote last night was a nail-biter, with the bill passing around 2 a.m. by only one vote (216-215) after leaders spent the day strong-arming 18 stalwart conservatives.

The tension in the House was over whether measures would survive that would put Medicare on a genuine track to reform. The reforms stayed in the bill, and the real work now begins in conference to reconcile the better House bill with the much more flawed Senate version.

Senators already are warning that if the House insists on too much real reform, it could kill the deal in the Senate. So the battle lines are drawn.

You had to love the House and its impassioned debate last night – including fiery speeches about who loves their mothers most. Democrats once again accused Republicans of being out to ?Get Old People? (GOP). Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin fired back that no one loves his mother more than he does, and – with his blood pressure clearly rising – told of the huge sacrifices she made raising her family in poverty. Democrats said Republicans may love their mothers, ?but they should call them more often.?

Democrats wore black armbands to signify their belief that the House bill was the beginning of the Death of Medicare. California Democrat Pete Stark charged that the Republicans with being ?liars,? and one Republican said the Democrats were acting like ?Baghdad Bob? in their misinformation campaign.

Who ever said that health policy is boring?

The debate in both houses showed the huge ideological gaps between the two parties – with Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York voicing his colleagues’ belief and trust in government to continue to run Medicare while Tauzin, Ways and Means Chairman Thomas, and other Republicans were equally passionate about the power of markets and belief in consumers. On the Senate side, ten brave Republicans voted against the bill along with 11 Democrats, with a final 76-21 vote for passage.

The Survey: The Galen Institute’s survey on voter attitudes toward Medicare and a drug benefit received a great deal of attention during the debate. The survey showed that the president had been right from the beginning in saying that a stand-alone drug benefit was a bad idea and resources should be put into improving the program overall.

The poll, conducted for us last week by Zogby International, showed 82% of likely voters would like the option of a private health plan approved by Medicare, and 74% of seniors consider the Senate plan worse than their present coverage.

The Wall Street Journal featured our poll results yesterday in an editorial that was, once again, exactly on target (see below). The Journal deserves huge credit for its series of editorials exposing the dangers of the contrived and impossibly complex stand-alone drug benefits in both bills. ?They may believe they can make good politics out of bad policy, but in the long run, it may come back to haunt them,? the Journal concludes.

Bob Novak, our favorite syndicated columnist, also featured the poll in his column yesterday, published here in the Washington Post. Our data was used in Senate floor debate, Rush Limbaugh quoted the results yesterday as did NBC’s Today Show, I did an interview for National Public Radio, and am scheduled to appear on Kudlow & Kramer on CNBC on Tuesday night.

Medicare has been the consuming focus of the week for our colleagues as well. The articles below offer various perspectives, new data, and analyses of the Medicare legislation before Congress.

Finally, Health Policy Matters will take a break next week while Congress is in recess and will return July 11. Let us all take time next week to celebrate our cherished freedom and independence.

Grace-Marie Turner




Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit research organization focusing on ideas to promote free-market health reform. She can be reached at P.O. Box 19080, Alexandria, VA, 22320.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

About the author