Appearing on CBS program Face the Nation on Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned the House health reform legislation that passed Saturday night is a "disaster" for private choice, adding that he hopes and prays Democrats' reforms do not become law.
"The House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate," he said. "Just look at how it passed: it passed 220-215. ... You had 39 Democrats vote against the bill. They come from red states. Moderate Democrats from swing districts, they bailed out on the bill. It was a bill by liberals, for liberals."
However, one of the most well-known liberals in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, joined Republicans in refusing to vote for the bill.
"instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care," Kucinich said, according to a press release by his office. "In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies — a bailout under a blue cross."
Pressed by host Bob Schieffer, Graham did not specify whether or not he would join a threatened filibuster of the Senate's health reform legislation.
"Let me tell you why Joe [Lieberman] feels that way, and I do," he began. "The public option will destroy private health care. Nobody in this country in the insurance business can compete with a government-sponsored plan, with the government rights and benefits and politicians will never raise the premiums. It will be a death blow to private choice."
However, as Slate writer Timothy Noah noted: "A dispiriting analysis by the Congressional Budget Office [...] concluded that the Pelosi public option would charge premiums that were higher than those of its private-sector competitors, not lower, as anticipated. That's because the health reform bill, despite outlawing various cruel practices by private health insurers (rejecting customers based on pre-existing conditions, charging significantly higher premiums to individuals in high-risk demographic groups, voiding the policies of customers who get sick based on petty flaws in their paperwork), is not expected to eliminate all possible means health insurers have to avoid signing up people likely to incur high medical expenses. As a consequence, the public option will end up taking on a large proportion of people who need a great deal of medical care, thereby driving up premiums, a grim scenario anticipated months ago by Princeton sociologist Paul Starr."
The otherwise anemic public insurance option was also assailed by Senator Lieberman (I-CT) on Sunday as "unnecessary" and something that was "put forward, I’m convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance."
"I just think the construct, out in the House and what exists in the Senate is not gonna pass and I hope and pray it doesn't 'cause it'd be a disaster for the economy and for health care," Graham concluded.
During the same program, Schieffer asked Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) if he believes Senate Democrats will have the 60 votes needed to overcome a potential filibuster staged over the public option. While he did not specifically say whether a public option would remain part of the bill, he did offer his support for it, adding: "I believe we are going to pass health care reform."
The United States has over 46 million uninsured citizens. A recent study by the American Journal of Public Health revealed that over 45,000 US citizens die each year because they do not have health insurance -- a figure higher than those killed by "terrorism, homicide, drunk driving and HIV combined," writer Holly Sklar noted.
This video is from CBS News' Face the Nation, broadcast Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009.
This video is from Fox News Sunday, broadcast Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009.