I had an opportunity to be included on a conference call which began at 4:30 pm today with Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-GA) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) discussing the Healthcare bill. Below is a synopsis of the call.
Rep. Gingrey is an M.D. who has presently put his OB-GYN practice on hold for the last eight years while he has been a Congressman and therefore knows much about medical issues and what may and will befall us should this Healthcare bill be passed.
Rep. Gingrey stated 73% of Americans oppose this bill, which would allow the federal government to takeover 1/6 of our economy. He feels there needs to be health reform, however the current bill should be scrapped and begun again and could conceivably be written into law before Election 2010 so voters can determine which legislators they feel would be in their best interest. Two areas he stressed where reform is needed would be dealing with coverage for "high risk" patients and those with pre-existing conditions. He is sure there is not one Republican who will vote for the bill in its present form.
I questioned Rep. Gingrey regarding tort reform and whether or not he feels people should be permitted to purchase coverage over state lines. To the former, he stated as a physician he knows all too well the frustration of having to practice "defensive medicine." He stated the CBO has estimated $54B could be saved over 10 years with tort reform, but in his opinion he feels $54B could be saved every year. To the latter question, he believes people should be permitted to shop for insurance on the internet if they desire.
Rep. Rodgers was asked the question if today's ruling from the Senate Parliamentarian that Mr. Obama must sign Congress' original Healthcare reform bill before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package would make it harder for Ms. Pelosi to put this bill into law, she stated "considerably." It will make it much more difficult for the House because they will have to vote on the Senate bill as is, with all the "vote buying" that went into the Senate version, ex. "The Cornhusker Kickback" and this will make it more difficult for House Dems to swallow. She stressed that reconciliation is limited in scope, and relates only to budgetary items, and today's ruling will be a lot for House Democrats to swallow.
Rep. Gingrey agreed, stating there has to be an element of trust by the House for the Senate to later pass all the amendments they promised would be included, and Ms. Pelosi would then need 60 votes, which he is confident she doesn't have. He stated there is no way this can be accomplished by Mr. Obama's "deadline" of March 18.
When questioned if the above parliamentary ruling would make the "Slaughter Rule" moot, Rep. Gingrey said he believed it would. The Slaughter Rule is eponymous to Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, who is chair of the House Rules Committee. Her committee was set to meet on March 17 and deem the Senate version of the bill passed. This would have allowed Senate Democrats to avoid a vote, and thus any negative repercussions from their constituents as to how they voted on the bill. Clever, huh?
Rep. Gingrey stated should the bill be eventually passed, it could conceivably be repealed if the Republicans regain control of Congress in the fall; however he stressed Mr. Obama would still be in office and would most certainly veto the repeal. It would then require a 2/3 majority of Congress to overrule him.
In closing, Rep. Gingrey stated he feels this is not a time for us to become complacent and to assume the bill will or will not pass. But Conservatives should renew and keep up their grass-roots initiatives, activism; get on the phone to their Congressmen and to DC for rallies if possible.
Thank you Congressman Gingrey and Congresswoman Rodgers.