Released by Senator Ben Nelson’s office on Monday, August 24, 2009.
August 24, 2009 – Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson said today that few Nebraskans attending his public meetings want Congress to do nothing to reform health care in America. He also said that bipartisan agreement already exists on significant reforms that would improve Nebraskans’ health care, while not increasing the deficit or creating a large new role for the federal government.
What bipartisan agreement? What “significant reforms”? I attended Nelson’s public meeting in Lincoln, and he only spoke in general terms about “reform”.
While I’ve heard from Nebraskans expressing strong support for the President’s health care reform proposals, and from other Nebraskans just as opposed, and those who mainly want specific questions answered, when I’ve asked who wants nothing done the message is clear: Few raise their hands…That tells me, while opinions vary, many Nebraskans want improvements in our health care system…”
This troubles me. Nelson must suffer from selective hearing loss. It’s not clear to me that Nelson truly understands the kind of reform that many anti-Obamacare folks support: tort reform and a reduction of government involvement in the health care system. For Nelson, “improvements” = increased government involvement.
Today, he said that he continues to hope a bipartisan bill can be developed this fall that will reduce the cost of health care and improve quality, while not increasing the deficit. Reforms also should help make health coverage available to Nebraskans now unable to obtain it without jeopardizing health coverage for 85 percent of Nebraskans who have coverage today, he said.
At the Lincoln public meeting, Nelson was asked for specifics on how the cost and quality of health care can be improved while reducing the deficit. In typical Nelsonspeak, the Senator responded that the debate isn’t about reducing the deficit. What’s important is that any “reform” not increase the deficit. He’d be happy with “reform” that would not impact the deficit either way.
Nelson noted that already bipartisan agreement exists in Congress to promote wellness programs, preventive care efforts and expand health information technology that would streamline care, improve the lives of millions of Americans and hold down costs. There also is broad support for reforms that simplify and guarantee affordable coverage, to eliminate insurer’s ability to deny coverage or charge higher premiums because of pre-existing medical conditions and to improve the delivery of health care, he said.
That’s as specific as Nelson gets on any bipartisan reform which, as the Heritage Foundation points out, is actually regulation, not reform. Again, this can only be done through increased government involvement. And the regulation “reform” Nelson supports will only end up increasing health care costs.
I will not support anything until I’ve seen everything in a final bill, and I think we should focus more on areas we agree and less on the most divisive issues in health care reform,” Nelson said. “We have an opportunity to help many Americans struggling daily with health care issues, but we have to do it the right way.”
Again, for Nelson, helping Americans means more government. All of this sounds like the same old Ben Nelson: speaking in generalities, portraying himself as Mr. Bipartisan, and avoiding commitment. Nelson has left himself so much room to maneuver, that it’s impossible to know which way he is likely to go. I suspect he will vote for whatever comes along claiming, as he did with the Stimulus, that doing something was better than doing nothing. He repeatedly assures us that he puts Nebraskans first, but in reality he puts Ben Nelson first. Typical politician.
I do not trust the man.