Do Lobbyists Need Three Days to Read Health Reform Bill?

Republican Senator Pat Roberts thinks so. After saying publicly he wouldn’t vote for the bill now before the Senate Finance Committee, Roberts pleads for more time not so he can read the bill, but so lobbyists can. Here’s a direct quote. “The thing I’m trying to point out is that we would have at least 72 hours for the people that the providers have hired to keep up with all the legislation that we pass around here, and the regulations we pass around here, to say “Hey, wait a minute. Have you considered this?” That’s all I’m asking for.”

Now granted, the bill now before the Finance Committee contains some 564 amendments. That may be a lot of reading, but what makes Roberts or anyone else think those amendments weren’t written at the behest of the same people he’s shilling for? Talk about being in someone’s pocket!

Fact is, Republicans on the committee and throughout the Senate want healthcare reform to die a slow death. Sad to say, some Democrats are helping them out in this endeavor. It’s been said before, and it needs to be said again. Any bill that doesn’t contain a public option is no healthcare reform at all. President Obama should stand up right now and say he won’t sign such a bill.

We’ve written before about the cold fear conservatives have about government competing with those big insurance companies which fund their lawmakers and many organizations that oppose reform. They frame it in “government can’t do anything right” language, but they fear government may do its job too well. They know Medicare and Medicaid, while not perfect, keep administrative costs at about half the level of private insurance companies.

And what does Pat Roberts really believe about healthcare reform? Well, here’s another quote.

“I hear from Kansans all of the time who wonder why it is necessary to completely and radically change our system of health care in order to gain insurance coverage for a relatively small number of uninsured Americans.

“They’re not heartless- they just don’t think that we need to sacrifice a system that works well for some three-quarters of this country, and spend trillions of dollars that we don’t have, when there are other, more targeted options to reduce costs and increase insurance coverage.”

So that one quarter of the country, those tens of millions of people for whom the current system doesn’t work are just out of luck, eh, Senator? Maybe you should talk to some of those who had insurance, only to be arbitrarily dropped when they got sick. Or people who had to declare bankruptcy as the only alternative to the spiraling cost of care for a chronic illness.

Maybe the question posed at the top of this blog is the wrong one. Maybe it should be “Do our lawmakers have any clue about how America really lives?” Well, do they? You tell me.

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