Democrats look to reform healthcare after the elections.
After the demise of President Bill Clinton's plan for universal coverage, Senator Waxman said he concluded that "the health care system can be fundamentally changed only when there's strong public support for a specific proposal." Democrats will use the next two years to build such support before the 2008 presidential election.
Expecting to gain seats in Congress, Democrats are drafting an ambitious health care agenda to carry out their campaign promises with legislation to lower drug costs for older Americans, provide more money for children's health insurance and expand research using embryonic stem cells.
For 12 years, House Democrats have felt powerless to shape the health care agenda. Now they sense a major opportunity. They are not only using health care as an issue in the midterm elections, but also plan to use it to set the stage for the 2008 presidential campaign.
In Ohio, the Democratic candidate for the Senate, Representative Sherrod Brown, repeatedly points out that the number of uninsured has increased by more than five million since President George W. Bush took office.
In a television commercial, Representative John Sweeney, a four-term Republican from upstate New York, boasted that he has "come through for every hospital in this part of New York - every one." Senator Lincoln Chafee, Republican of Rhode Island, and Representative Deborah Pryce, Republican of Ohio, boasted that they split with Bush and voted for research using embryonic stem cells.
Embryonic stem cell research has been a defining issue in Senate races in Arizona, Maryland and Minnesota. Republicans are not ceding those issues to Democrats.
On Capitol Hill, the Democratic agenda faces three significant constraints: fiscal reality, industry resistance and Bush.
Let us pray that they will also take this opportunity to pass Rep.Hinchey's bill for Acupuncture coverage. The Federal Acupuncture Act has been tossed around since 1994.
"Written by Rev. Dr. Richard Browne