Obamacare ‘Wrap-up’ Guts Repub Amendments

Connie Hair

By Connie Hair

10/06/2009

Nearing the finish line of the health care marathon in the Senate Finance Committee during the wee hours on Friday morning , Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.V.) sponsored the “wrap-up amendment” that stealthily gutted important Republican amendments to the “conceptual draft” of a bill that were agreed to or voted through in committee.  This wrap-up amendment passed 13-10 on a straight party line vote, allowing Democrats to vote favorably on some high-profile issues, only to pull them back substantially under the cover of darkness in the wrap-up.Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican on the Finance Committee voiced strong concerns over this last-minute maneuvering to eviscerate protections for seniors, veterans and the shrinking number of folks who still have a job in the days of Obamanomics.

“These changes need to see the light of day,” Grassley said.  “Americans considering what this health care proposal means for them deserve to know that Medicare prescription drug premiums would probably go up, veterans’ access to health care would be diminished, and workers’ wages could be garnished in the midst of growing unemployment and a prolonged recession, in order to pay for other spending in the health reform bill.  The issues behind seniors being subjected to higher premiums in Medicare Part D also emphasize the reason why it’s important for senators to have actual cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office before being asked to vote on major policy changes.”

The wrap-up amendment expands powers granted to a brand new Medicare Commission endowing these bureaucrats with the ability to raise premiums on Medicare prescription drug coverage at will.  Democrats had worked out a deal with hospitals in secret negotiations over the summer to exempt them from the extensive plans for cuts in Medicare rates.  This “carve out” would exempt hospitals from these reductions but the CBO estimated the provision would add $11 billion to the overall cost of the bill.  No problem for Dems, just rack up another $11 billion in stealth cuts to Medicare for an offset.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) offered an amendment that was agreed to in the committee markup without objection to shield veterans from increases in the cost of their medical care and reductions in access to treatment.  In the wrap-up amendment, Democrats voted to gut the veteran protections, without the customary consultation to the amendment’s author, reducing the amendment to mere instructions to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study of the cost of veteran health care specifically including the cost of their medical devices and brand name medications.  More cost cutting measures at our veterans’ expense.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) sponsored an amendment to safeguard the work force from reductions in wages as a result of the bill’s staggering increase in taxes, fees and assessments on employers.  The committee voted unanimously to adopt Enzi’s amendment protecting employees and, again, the wrap-up amendment transformed the wording into a requirement for the Secretary of Labor to perform an inconsequential study on the issue.  It matters not what working families can afford.  Democrats need to pay for their socialist power grab.

The gutless Democrats in the Senate supported Medicare and veterans and wage protections in the very public amendment vote tallies, then stripped those very same protections in stealth.  The depth and breadth of the fraud and deception being perpetrated on the American people by this government takeover of health care is simply breathtaking.

Dems in Denial

To further their massive health care deception, House Democrats repeatedly claim in speech after speech after media appearance that Republicans have offered no solutions for the nation’s health care ills.  In speeches from the House floor all last week, Democrats pointedly and repetitively inquired about Republican solutions asking, “Where’s the bill?”

In response, Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.) yesterday sent a “Dear Colleague” letter in email directly to all House Democrat Caucus members of Congress with an attachment directory linking all 40 pieces of heath care legislation introduced by Republicans in the House this year, including full, alternative, free market health care bills.

Dear Colleague,

In light of public assertions that House Republicans have offered no solutions for health care reform, please see this updated directory of more than 40 health care bills introduced by Republican Study Committee members this year.  Thanks for your consideration.

Yours Truly,

s/ Rep. Tom Price, M.D.
Chairman, Republican Study Committee

Short, sweet and to the point.  Now, when Democrats say Republicans have offered no health care solutions of their own, let there be no doubt they have all been given the information directly covering every piece of Republican health care legislation introduced this year in the 111th Congress.

Price also scored a meeting this week with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius .  The RSC will meet Sebelius Wednesday evening to discuss Obamacare.  Members of the RSC, and the organization as a whole, have been very vocal in opposition to Democrats’ proposed government takeover of health care.  And, despite very public offers by the President to meet with members and go over the massive House legislation “line by line,” the White House has ignored all overtures by Republican members to accept the President’s repeated offer.

Price received a call from the White House offering Sebelius as a stand-in to try to defend Obamacare.  Should be one raucous meeting.

Rasmussen:  Growing Numbers of Voters Reject the “Public Option” Crawl

“Suppose that the creation of a government-sponsored non-profit health insurance option encouraged companies to drop private health insurance coverage for their workers. Workers would then be covered by the government option. Would you favor or oppose the creation of a government-sponsored non-profit health insurance option if it encouraged companies to drop private health insurance coverage for their workers?”

29%     Favor
58%     Oppose
13%     Not sure

Rasmussen Reports conducted October 2-3, 2009; survey of 1,000 likely voters nationwide.


Connie Hair is a freelance writer, a former speechwriter for Rep. Tre

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