More Problems for Obama's Health Plan
Yet another wrench has been thrown into the gears of the machine that is President Obama’s universal health care plan, as moderate Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have expressed their opinion that federal funding for abortion should not be part of the health-care coverage. This would include barring the use of federal funds to purchase policies provided by private companies that include an abortion option in their plan. Abortion rights activists expressed anger over this, but it appears that this concession may be necessary if the bill is to stand a chance of passing the Senate vote.
The health care bill narrowly passed by the House of Representatives on Sunday includes similar wording, saying that federal money cannot be used to purchase any health care package that will pay for abortions. However, the House bill includes a provision that allows for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or if the birth poses a health risk to the mother. If the Senate’s version of the bill, drafted by Sen. Max Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee, passes the Senate vote, that bill would have to be merged with the House’s version to form a single plan that would have to be signed into law by the president.
Americans continue to be narrowly divided over the issue of pro-choice versus pro-life. This divide is clearly seen in Congress – the health care bill has been on the table for months with no clear end in sight as politicians pick sides. Many Republicans oppose the bill, believing it will harm competition between private insurers, and they are also against the principle of a government-run health plan, known as the public option, saying private companies should not have to compete with the government. The government plan, they say, will drive many companies out of business simply because private companies cannot compete with low government prices, and this will eliminate thousands of jobs.
Former President Bill Clinton, who himself had tried to create a similar universal healthcare plan in 1994, made a rare appearance in Congress to speak to senators, urging them to pass the bill. "Whatever their differences are, I just urged them to resolve their differences and pass a bill," Clinton said on Capitol Hill. "I also believe, you know, people hired us to come to work in places like this to solve problems and stand up and do it."
Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill), the second-highest ranking Democrat in the senate, said he believes the Senate will begin a full debate on the healthcare bill by Thanksgiving. According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the bill has many hurdles to overcome – primarily the controversy surrounding the decision to include the public option – may mean that the bill will not pass by the end of the year, President Obama’s goal, if at all.