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A Republican legislation-watcher emails this update on Democrats' arm-twisting:
Over the course of the debate on health care reform, a troubling pattern has emerged among the proponents of the various expensive proposals being pushed by the White House and congressional Democrats: a string of reports about strong-arm tactics being used against those who might dissent from, or even offer criticism of, Democrats’ health reform plans. Senate Democrats in particular seem to be involved in these stories, and today it’s been revealed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not been shy in this regard, either.
According to a report in The Hill, “The White House and Democratic leaders are offering doctors a deal: They’ll freeze cuts in Medicare payments to doctors in exchange for doctors’ support of healthcare reform. At a meeting on Capitol Hill last week with nearly a dozen doctors groups, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate would take up separate legislation to halt scheduled Medicare cuts in doctor payments over the next 10 years. In return, Reid made it clear that he expected their support for the broader healthcare bill, according to four sources in the meeting.” Further, The Hill reports, “‘They said they’re going to need our help in getting healthcare reform over the goal line and they expect our support,’ said a participant who represents doctors. ‘Reid, Baucus and Dodd. All three said the same thing: They want and expect our support.’”
Today’s news comes in the wake of a push from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to remove anti-trust exemptions for health insurers, which came right after health insurers began pointing to a study they commissioned showing that insurance premiums would increase under a proposal from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT). Politico reported at the time, “Schumer’s push comes on the heels of a controversial industry-sponsored report released over the weekend that makes the case that insurance premiums will go up by as much as $4,000 per family by 2019 if the Senate Finance Committee legislation is signed into law. The release of that report by the industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans sparked angry blowback from Democrats in both chambers.”
Prior to that, Baucus called in the Obama administration to slap a gag order on the insurer Humana, forbidding it and other companies from communicating about cuts to Medicare Advantage benefits that would result from some of the Democrat health care proposals. Stunningly, even The New York Times editorial page found fault with what it called a “ham-handed attempt to stop health insurers from warning buyers of private Medicare Advantage plans . . . .” The NYT writes, “The administration stepped in after Senator Max Baucus . . . charged that the industry was engaging in unfair scare tactics. But an inquiry by the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had to stretch facts to the breaking point to make a weak case that the insurers were doing anything improper.”
What is it about health care reform that makes Democrats think they need to resort to such tactics as gag orders, strong-arming, and back room deals? Certainly, Americans remain skeptical of Democrat proposals on a trillion dollar experiment that we know will raise premiums, raise taxes, and cut Medicare. Perhaps Democrats would be better served addressing these fundamental flaws in their bills, instead of resorting to pressure tactics designed to discourage criticism.