What Fresh Hell Is This?

January 20, 2011

Health Care Reform Vote: A Tale Of Three Representatives

The P-G today writes about how our three local members of the House of Representatives voted on the Repealing Giving Our Jobs a Lethal Injection of Socialism That Is Poisoning Our Economy And Our Freedom Health Care Law Act.

The results are not suprising. Republican Tim Murphy voted for, Democrats Doyle and Altmire against. The P-G's opening:
The vote itself is a legislative dead end, but U.S. House Republicans on Wednesday began what they hope is a road to reshaping the new health care overhaul law with a vote to repeal it.

By a 245-189 margin, the new GOP-controlled House kept a central promise of the fall campaign, though the Democratic-controlled Senate has said it will not consider repeal and President Barack Obama has vowed to veto it.

The symbolism was nonetheless important to Republicans in setting the tone as their pledged health care work gets under way.

"Putting up the vote this way we're going to, in other words, take a roll call of members of Congress and say: 'Do you agree that there's more wrong with this bill than right?' " said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair. "Then we're going to lay that out as our marker on the field and start from there."
A large chunk of the article was devoted to Altmire. Here's why:
Mr. Altmire presented a curious case as one of several Democrats who voted against the health care overhaul law last year, then refused to back an outright repeal. Mr. Altmire, who has a background in health care as a former lobbyist for UPMC, said he still sees serious problems with the law -- but a political exercise like this isn't the way to solve them.

Conservative groups such as American Crossroads -- which spent tens of millions backing Republicans in the November elections -- have attacked Mr. Altmire and other Democratic "no" votes on the initial bill for the apparent inconsistency in not backing a repeal.
If you head over to his congressional website, Altmire explains:
I voted against the 2010 health care reform bill because I believe it is a flawed, partisan proposal that will, on the whole, do more harm than good. The law has numerous provisions that will result in higher costs for families and businesses, and it does little to correct the inefficiencies and control the costs in our current health care system. It also lacks serious quality improvement provisions that would make our health care system work better for everyone.
A paragraph later:
However, I will not waste the time and resources of the American taxpayers by engaging in a purely partisan exercise that has no chance of becoming law. Additionally, I will not diminish the health care coverage of millions of Americans by voting to repeal the positive provisions of this law that have already taken effect, including closing the Medicare prescription drug donut hole; guaranteeing health insurance coverage for children with pre-existing conditions; banning lifetime insurance caps and rescissions; and offering free preventative care for seniors. Make no mistake, a vote for complete repeal is a vote to raise out-of-pocket costs for every Medicare beneficiary and take away private health care coverage for Americans with chronic health conditions.
So in general, Altmire agrees with Murphy, that the bill does more harm than good, though he won't vote to diminish coverage, reopen the donut hole, etc.

Here's some of the type of heat Altmire is getting. From the National Review Online:
Alex Cortes, chairman of DefundIt.org, has been leading an effort by conservative groups urging these Democrats to support repeal. He released the following statement today, praising Boren and Ross:
If only their colleagues had their same intellectual consistency and recognize the common-sense reality that if you are truly against something, then you will take the actions necessary to get rid of it. Thankfully there are still several hours left before the vote and I suggest some persuasive tea time may be in order.
Cortes told National Review Online that any Democrat who opposed the original bill and didn’t vote to repeal it would be engaging in “the heart of dishonesty” and warned that every politician who opposed repeal did so at their own peril because “the American people are on our side.”
Not surprisingly, the NRO's last line is not entirely accurate. A CNN/Opinion Research Poll from late December found that while 50% of those polled opposed the Health Care Reform bill, they were not all opposed for the same reason. Oddly enough, of those opposed 13% said it was "not liberal enough." 43% were in favor of the bill.

With a bit of arithmetic, we can conclude that only 37% oppose the bill because it goes to far, while 56% (a nice majority, by the way) think it's OK or it doesn't go far enough.

Something for Congressman Altmire to think about.


CSI w/o Dead Bodies said...

Maybe Altmire is getting better at reading the tea leaves after almost getting trounced by Rothfus last November.


Anonymous said...

I have a more cynical view of Altmire. Insurers have realized that the new law means 32 million new customers for them. Jason Altmire, (D-Highmark Blue Cross), no longer wants to repeal it.

But, whatever his reasons, I'll take it.

CSI w/o Dead Bodies said...

That too. Single payer now just like in Vermont! Here's another of my posts Altmire should read.


Joy said...

Altmire coming out on both sides of an issue? Fancy that.

Mike said...

Altmire has never been in favor of repeal going back to before the election, and Rothfus beat him over the head about it throughout the campaign.

His position has been extremely consistent practically since health care reform passed last year.

Gtl, Altmire is in favor of removing the individual mandate which would give them the 32 million customers.

Without the individual mandate (A Republican idea, by the way.), the entire business model for health care reform falls apart.

Mike said...

I haven't heard anyone, including Altmire, come up with a viable solution that didn't include an individual mandate.

CSI w/o Dead Bodies said...


Vermont is considering a solution like they have in Canada. Check out http://csiwodeadbodies.blogspot.com/2011/01/variability-in-survey-reports-but-not.html