Health Care Reform

Lincoln Committed to Shaping Senate Health Bill

Washington–(ENEWSPF)–November 21, 2009.  U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln said today she and a majority of Arkansans want “health care solutions not stalemate” as she announced she would vote to open debate on a Senate Health Care plan that she vowed will undergo significant change in the days ahead.

Lincoln said any attempt to characterize her vote as a stand for the current Senate health bill that was introduced 72 hours before the vote is misleading.  The bill was held open for public view for three days prior to the vote at Lincoln’s insistence. She said the vote on Saturday night would be whether to continue the debate on health care reform or drop the issue.  

Lincoln, who announced her intentions during remarks on the Senate floor Saturday afternoon, said a Senate Finance Committee bill which she helped craft remains closer to her goal for health care reform.

“We deliberated for more than 22 months, incorporating recommendations from experts all across our great nation, and proved with our bill that America can achieve unprecedented health insurance reforms that expand coverage, reduce costs and provide stability for those with existing coverage,” Lincoln said.  “We accomplished these goals without posing long term risk for taxpayers.”

Lincoln said that after today’s procedural vote, the Senate will face additional hurdles to move this process forward that also require 60 votes.  She stated that she would not help move the bill past the next stage if a government-run public option remains part of the legislation.  

“Rather than create an entirely new government-run health care plan to compete with private insurers.  I support health insurance reform that focuses on changing the rules of our existing employer-based private health insurance system.

I believe we should change the current rules that permit insurance companies to bully their customers and cherry pick healthy patients, so we can force them to compete with each other.

“This initial procedural vote simply allows us to open debate on health care reform, nothing more or less.  My decision to support this vote is not my last nor is it my only chance to shape health insurance reform. Debate on the Senate floor is where I will have the opportunity to influence the final version of health care reform legislation.

“For months, groups from outside Arkansas have assigned various motives to my deliberations on health care and tried to define the meaning of my vote.  These outside groups seem to think this is all about my re-election.  They do not know me very well.  Despite claims to the contrary, I am focused on reforms that will benefit Arkansans, not insurance companies, the health care industry, or my political party.  I am only accountable to my constituents, and I remain focused on my opportunity to influence the final version of health care reform legislation in a way that most helps my state.”