Health Care Redemption Time
The early months of the new Congress will be a time for redemption on the health care law…but for who? “Watch what happens,” said Congressman Fred Upton on Sunday, January 2, 2011. “There will be a significant number of Democrats, I think, that will join us.”
Incoming House Energy and Commerce Chair Congressman Fred Upton (R, MI-06) appearing on Fox News Sunday said he expects “significant” bipartisan support for repeal of President Obama’s health care overhaul before the State of the Union.
Congressman Upton also said there will be a stand-alone, separate effort to insert the Stupak/Pitts pro-life language that was abandoned during the final deal cutting needed to pass the health care law.
In the Republican’s “A Pledge to America” released in September, the opening to the document includes the promise “We pledge to honor families, traditional marriage, life, and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.”
In regards to President Obama’s health care law the pledge states:
“We offer a plan to repeal and replace the government takeover of health care with common sense solutions focused on lowering costs and protecting American jobs. We will enact real medical liability reform; allow Americans to purchase health coverage across state lines; empower small businesses with greater purchasing power; and create new incentives to save for future health needs. We will protect the doctor-patient relationship, and ensure that those with pre-existing conditions gain access to the coverage they need. We will permanently end taxpayer funding of abortion and codify the Hyde Amendment.”
These statements were easy for the Republicans in Congress to make because they have been consistent in their opposition to the health care overhaul and to the abortion funding in the law. The challenge will be to find House Democrats who voted for the law and survived the November 2nd election and those Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2012.
There are twenty-one Democrat Senators facing the voters in 2012. All voted for President Obama’s health care law with the exception of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a Catholic who won a special election to conclude the term of deceased Senator Robert Byrd:
1. Dianne Feinstein of California
2. Tom Carper of Delaware
3. Bill Nelson of Florida
4. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii
5. Ben Cardin of Maryland
6. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan
7. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
8. Claire McCaskill of Missouri
9. Jon Tester of Montana
10. Ben Nelson of Nebraska
11. Bob Menendez of New Jersey
12. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico
13. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York*
14. Kent Conrad of North Dakota
15. Sherrod Brown of Ohio
16. Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania*
17. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island
18. Jim Webb of Virginia
19. Maria Cantwell of Washington
20. Joe Manchin of West Virginia*
21. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin
While the House of Representatives will likely have enough votes to override a veto, Upton understands the challenges of success in passing a repeal in the Senate by an override number. Should a total repeal fail the strategy will shift to a piece-by-piece effort to change the law with one of the top priorities being the abortion-related provisions.
Either way, there are opportunities to right the wrongs of this law.
Back on March 23, 2010, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said:
“Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. . . . If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.”
Those Senators up for re-election in 2012 and all Members of the House of Representatives should not forget the message sent on November 2, 2010. Voters can be somewhat forgiving – but it will take some courageous Democrat Senators to admit they were wrong and voted for a defective bill.
By Matt Smith, Catholic Advocate Vice President