Harkin: Health Reform Bill Just a Foundation
At TWI’s sister site The Iowa Independent, Lynda Waddington relays the thoughts of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate health committee, who told reporters today that the health care reform bill moving through the Senate is far from a liberal’s dream, but nonetheless represents a good first step toward bolder reforms down the line.
“What we are buying here is a modest home, not a mansion. What we are getting here is a starter home. It’s got a good foundation: 30 million Americans are covered. It’s got a good roof: A lot of protections from abuses by insurance companies. It’s got a lot of nice stuff in there for prevention and wellness. But, we can build additions as we go along in the future. It is a starter home. Think about it in that way,” Harkin said by telephone Thursday morning.
Democrats have been on the defensive this week after bowing to the demands of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who insisted over the weekend that plans to expand Medicare be dropped from the compromise bill. Lieberman has also demanded that the bill contain no public insurance option — in any form. Seeing Lieberman’s support as the only way to get the underlying bill through the Senate, Democratic leaders have given the Connecticut Independent everything he’s asked for — and stirred a backlash from liberals, most notably Howard Dean, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, who is calling for the bill to be scrapped altogether.
Harkin said Dean’s frustration is understandable, Waddington writes, but it’s no reason to drop the reform bill and start over.
“I think [Dean] is speaking to the frustration of many of the progressives in this country who recognize what I think is sort of the common sense approach of having at least one public option out there,” Harkin said.
“I think there is a lot of frustration out there — I have it myself. But you can’t let frustration turn into defeat.”