Health Care — What Else? — Dominates Sunday Shows

Posted August 16, 2009 at 11:12am

Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) discussed on Sunday morning the merits of the highly charged town-hall meetings that have come to dominate the health care debate over the past week.Specter argued that the ongoing effort to overhaul the nation’s health care system could be sidetracked; Hatch countered that Democrats need to pay attention to the outrage expressed at the meetings lawmakers are conducting across the country during the August recess.Some of the lasting images from last week’s highly publicized meetings involved Specter facing angry attendees shouting their disagreement over various provisions that Democrats have floated for reforming the system.“Although those people need to be heard and have a right to be heard, they are not really representative of America, in my opinion,— Specter said on ABC’s “This Week.— Referring to a recent statement by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Specter said there is an ongoing effort by opponents of health care reform to make the issue President Barack Obama’s Waterloo.“We can’t allow these types of town-hall meetings to dominate the political process,— he said. “That would be destructive of what we need to do to figure out: what is the best approach— to fixing the system.But while he complimented Specter on how he handled himself during his highly charged town-hall discussions, Hatch said Democrats should not simply ignore what they saw last week.“I found people up in arms just about everywhere I’ve gone— when it comes to health care, Hatch said.Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,— Health and Human Services Secretary Katherine Sebelius said she sees positives coming out of the town-hall events.“I think that the debate across the country … reflects the fact that Americans care deeply about health care. It’s the most personal issue to most folks,— she said. “I think there’s a general recognition that the system we have in America is fundamentally broken. … Our health results look like we’re a developing nation.—Hatch and Specter, as well as other Members appearing on the Sunday news shows, debated many of the most controversial aspects of the health care bills working their way through Congress. Among those issues is the provision covering end-of-life consultations and whether the health care overhaul will add to the national deficit. Another focus of the health care discussion on Sunday were the ongoing negotiations taking place among three Democrats and three Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee. The “gang of six— has been working to come up with a compromise plan that can pass with bipartisan support in the Senate.One member of that group, Democrat Kent Conrad (N.D.), has recently championed the idea of forming privately run cooperatives instead of creating a public insurance option to cover the nation’s uninsured. “The fact of the matter is there are not the votes in the United States Senate for the public option. There never have been,— Conrad said on “Fox News Sunday.—Conrad’s co-op plan earned some support Sunday from Republican Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), who has been a staunch opponent of Democratic plans to overhaul health care.“It would be, I believe, a step in the right direction,— Shelby said of Conrad’s co-op plan. “I think that’s something we should look at. … I don’t know if it would do everything we want.—Sebelius said she believes something positive will come out of the Finance negotiations.“I think we’ll have Senators who still are working with the Finance Committee structure and they’re likely to be part of the final solution— she said. “And there’s no question we have lots of Republican ideas even in the House version, which at the committee level did not have Republican votes.—But Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who appeared later on CNN along with a pair of Republicans, Rep. Tom Price (Ga.) and Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), wasn’t so positive about bipartisan efforts.“It appears to be that the Republicans are just not going to cooperate, no matter what. They’d rather have a problem so they can talk about it,— she said.“The status quo is unacceptable. Everyone appreciates that,— Price countered. “We believe strongly there ought to be appropriate reforms.—