A ‘Second Opinion’
GOP Senators launch campaign against reform
As the Obama administration continues to enact provisions of the healthcare reform law, efforts to prevent its adoption are growing stronger. Republican lawmakers intend to frame the new reform law as a budget-busting package of misguided programs and costly mandates that will increase the cost of insurance coverage and do little to drive down the cost of care as a battle with the White House over messaging begins to heat up.
In many ways it is a reprise of the arguments that played out on Capitol Hill over the year-and-a-half health reform debate. But Republicans say they are emboldened by a series of reports from government agencies and Wall Street analysts that project the law costing billions more than first predicted while restricting a person’s ability to see a doctor when needed.
Senate Republicans last week unveiled a multipronged campaign to publicly counter the White House’s established messaging machine just ahead of the summertime congressional recesses and the November elections.
Loosely referred to as the “Second Opinion” project, senior senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Barrasso of Wyoming, plan to use floor speeches, press conferences and other public events to strike back against the overhaul package now being implemented, according to a senior leadership aide.
Republicans in the House are in lockstep with their colleagues in the Senate. On May 13, House Minority Leader John Boehner—in a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius—railed against the rollout of the new law, saying that the Obama administration has ignored dire warnings that the reform effort will cost far more than first thought.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure this law never, ever goes into effect,” Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill. “We’re going to rip out every possible mandate and tax increase that they’ve got contained in this bill.”
Boehner said the bill remains unpopular among a majority of Americans. “They want it gone,” he said. “They want it replaced with commonsense reforms that will lower the cost of health insurance and protect American jobs.”
The strong statements come on the heels of a Congressional Budget Office report that estimated that the law could cost $115 billion more than previously predicted because of a number of new grant programs, agency costs and scores of new initiatives where funding is expected though not specified.
Further, GOP lawmakers said they were similarly angered over a letter sent from Sebelius that touted the early implementation of a number of reform initiatives, including expanded coverage programs and tax breaks for small businesses. “Now I’ve seen my fair share of propaganda, but this letter must have been written in an alternative universe,” Boehner said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), however, championed the nascent reform
Roberts: Facts and statements “are stubborn things.”