Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Healthcare Debate to Pit Democrat vs Democrat

"It'll be Democrat vs. Democrat as lawmakers go back to work on health care Tuesday.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to consider whether the government should offer its own insurance plan for the middle class in competition with private carriers. The so-called "public option" is the top goal for liberals, but it has no Republican support and moderate Democrats say the Senate will never go along.

So Tuesday's debate is expected to pit Democratic liberals against moderates.

Although the public plan isn't expected to get a majority of the panel, supporters say at least they'll know where everybody stands.

Finance Chairman Max Baucus of Montana is already in the hot seat -- accused of being lukewarm, if not downright hostile to the government-run option.

Two liberal groups are launching a hard-hitting television and Internet ad featuring a young father from Montana. Bing Perrine, 26, in need of a heart operation, uninsured and deeply in debt, looks straight into the camera and asks Baucus: "Whose side are you on?"

The ad is sponsored by Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who say Baucus is too cozy with insurance and health care interests that have contributed to his campaigns and oppose the public option.

Baucus aide Tyler Matsdorf said the ad falsely implies that Baucus doesn't care about the plight of people with pre-existing health problems. It's just that Baucus would address such problems in a different way from what the liberals want, Matsdorf said. For example, his plan calls for nonprofit co-ops to compete with the insurance industry independently of the government. Insurers also oppose co-ops."

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