Dem Unafraid to Risk Seats for Health Care

When asked today if Democrats are willing to push forward a contentious health care reform bill, even at the risk of losing control in Congress, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that voters overwhelmingly back key parts of the bill, even as Republicans attack it as lacking public support.

"When you go to the individual elements in our bill and ask people, 'Do you think there ought to be extended coverage? Do you think we ought to prevent pre-existing conditions . . . stopping you getting insurance?' the public overwhelmingly answers 'Yes,'" Hoyer, D-Md., said on CBS' "The Early Show" this morning.

"As a matter of fact, most of the things in our bill — efficiencies, extension of competition, open and transparent free markets to get your insurance — most people on the individual items say, 'Yes, we're for that. We think that's good policy.'

"If we pass this bill, we're prepared to go to the American public because we believe they support the individual elements in the bill."

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When asked by"Early Show" anchor Harry Smith what he thought was the most important selling point for the bill, Hoyer said, "Certainly the single best selling point is what I think Senator McCain and Senator Obama both agreed upon in the debate just shortly before the election: We needed to provide access to affordable health care for all Americans and all families.

"That is the single best selling point, because if we don't do that, the system is more expensive, less efficient, our nation is less healthy, and all Americans who have insurance are paying about $1,000 extra in their policies to accomplish that objective."

"Some of your 'Blue Dog' Democrat friends say there's not enough cost containment in it," Smith said. "Warren Buffett, who sort of likes it in principle, said there is not enough cost containment. The Republicans say 'Let's go back to square one.' Is there any chance this moves back a little bit, that there's more agreement, before this thing moves forward?"

"Well, Harry, we're working on agreement," replied Hoyer, "and as you saw last Thursday, the president convened 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans, House and Senate, to discuss it. I thought it was a very civil, positive discussion, and there were great areas of agreement. So the answer to that question is yes.

"In terms of cost containment, clearly as you know the Congressional Budget Office says our bills save about $132 billion over the next ten years and $1 trillion over the next 20 years. That's very substantial dollars."

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at and