The Wall Street Journal reports that several firms reiterated support for a health care reform bill Wednesday, a day after the overhaul's viability was called into question by the victory of Republican Sen.-elect Scott Brown in Massachusetts. "PhRMA, the drug industry association, as well as companies including Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, WellPoint Inc. and Humana Inc., voiced support for an overhaul of some kind, despite objections among insurers about the efforts to date." The Journal reports that for insurers in particular, the possibility that the current bills could be jettisoned "spelled relief and presented an opportunity to push for legislation that better contained costs.
ABC News interviewed President Barack Obama, who said: "The Senate certainly shouldn't try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated. People in Massachusetts spoke. He's got to be part of that process. ... I think point number two is that it is very important to look at the substance of this package and for the American people to understand that a lot of the fear mongering around this bill isn't true. I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on" (Stephanopoulos, 1/20). Democrats are "giving serious consideration to abandoning the comprehensive approach in favor of incremental steps that might salvage key elements of the package, " the Los Angeles Times reports.
Abstinence-only advocates are relying on the Senate version of health reform legislation (HR 3590) for federal funding after the fiscal year 2010 budget did not include money for the programs, HealthLeaders Media reports. The Senate reform bill includes a provision that would allocate $50 million to states to fund abstinence-only curriculums. Valerie Huber -- president of the National Abstinence Education Association, which is lobbying for the Senate bill -- said, "We are hopeful the Senate language will prevail." Current funding expires June 30. "I think it's up in the air, " Huber said, adding, "This is a grassroots issue, and we're relying on our members to communicate to members of Congress.
The Incredible, Shrinking Health Care Overhaul USA Today For now it appears that Washington's polarizing ways, and public anxiety about change, have again left Americans with the most expensive, least reliable health care system in the developed world. No matter who you are, that's hardly cause to celebrate (1/21). Health Care Irony In Massachusetts The Dallas Morning News/The Providence Journal If you don't have the courage of your convictions, it doesn't matter whether your party has 59 or 60 or 65 seats in the Senate (Froma Harrop, 1/20). Who Really Understands ObamaCare? Kaiser Health News From the very moment public opinion started going south on the president's health plan, the White House and Democrat leaders in Congress began sounding a familiar refrain: The public does not understand the bill;
USA Today reports that "Democratic leaders say [Mass. Republican Scott] Brown's win hasn't killed the $1 trillion health care bill, " but after a series of meetings Wednesday they still had no "clear plan for how to proceed." Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, says the best option would be to have the House pass the Senate's version of the health bill, which would eliminate the need for the Senate to vote on the bill again, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., says the strategy might work, although it could be difficult. "Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., is more blunt: 'I don't think it's a viable strategy.' Some Republicans say the White House still could get a health care bill passed if it returns to the drawing board" (Page, Fritze and Kiely, 1/21).
Democratic leaders on Tuesday vowed to pass a health care reform bill despite losing a Senate seat in the Massachusetts special election to state Sen. Scott Brown (R), CQ Today reports. Before the election results were announced, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "We will have a health care bill. Regardless of what happens in Massachusetts, we will make it happen" (Armstrong/Wayne, CQ Today, 1/19). Brown, who claims to support abortion rights, opposes what critics call "partial-birth abortion." He has said he would give Senate Republicans the 41st vote needed to block health reform legislation, the Washington Post reports (Romano, Washington Post, 1/20).