The U.S. Senate is expected to resume debate Monday on its $848 billion health care plan.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is reviewing the potential costs of a tentative Democratic deal which would allow 55- to 64-year-olds to get Medicare coverage, and set up a federally-regulated series of privately run insurance plans.
National news reports indicate that a new report from the analysts on Friday found that the nation’s annual health care tab won’t shrink under the Democrat’s blueprint but will grow more rapidly than if congress does nothing.
Moderates are nervous about the inclusion of a public option, or government-run insurance program, which has been pushed by the White House and Democratic leaders as an alternative to private coverage. That’s in the House proposal, but the Senate bill would allow states to opt out of a federal plan.
Senator Lindsey Graham appeared on FOX News Friday, talking about the positions of Democratic leaders and moderate Democrats on the plan.
“They meet themselves coming and going,” said the Republican. “But what worries me most, and I hear this often, is they say they’ll vote for anything that will get them 60 votes. I believe that whatever passes the Senate becomes law because the House is not going to be able to pass it in conference. Nancy Pelosi will be pressured by the White House to take anything the Senate can agree to.”
Democrats control 60 of the Senate’s 100 seats, the number needed to limit debate on the issue.
Graham says there is good news from the Senate. “The good news is that some people on the Democrat side are asking good questions and the math doesn’t add up,” said Graham. “The bad news for the people is that we’re doing things behind closed doors. There’s an alleged deal and no Republican has been informed about it. This is not the way President Obama campaigned. And this is no way to change one-sixth of the economy.”
Also Friday, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent a memo to Republican senators and candidates saying it’s good politics to oppose the health care plan, that polls say it’s unpopular with the public.
Graham says it’s hard to pass a plan that Americans don’t like.
“Well if you do it, you’ll pay a heavy price,” said Graham. “There is a way to reform health care. But doing it in secret, a half-a-billion dollars in taxes and cutting Medicare are not what people are looking for. Polls indicate that people are watching what we’re doing up here. Democrats need to get out of this cocoon and go home and listen to people, instead of talking to each other.”
Even some more progressive senators worry that expanding existing government programs could make proper health care harder to come by, since those programs traditionally pay doctors and hospitals less than private insurers pay them.