This afternoon, on a conference call with reporters, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, announced that he would not support Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-MT) health care framework in its current form:
The way it is right now, now we have an amendment process coming up next week. I’ll have many, many, many amendments and we will see what happens on that. But now, there is no way that I can vote for the Senate package. For a lot of reasons. Obviously the lack of a public option is one of them. So that I want to be very clear about.
Other Democrats have also expressed concerns about the bill’s affordability standards and financing mechanisms. “The flashpoint is all about affordability,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) told reporters. “Additional steps have to be taken to make health care more affordable.” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) “also said he has concerns with the fees Baucus’ proposal would impose on some sectors of the healthcare industry. He did not specify which industries — pharmaceutical, medical device, health insurance or clinical labs — he was most concerned with.”
Meanwhile, the three Republicans participating in the so-called Gang-Of-Six negotiations are also unlikely to support the measure. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Mike Enzi (D-WY) have indicated that they favored smaller bill that does not impose fees on health insurance companies, establishes a five-year waiting period for legal immigrants to obtain coverage, and strictly prohibits “the use of federal money to pay for abortion.” Meanwhile, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) signaled Tuesday “she is unlikely to immediately support” Baucus’ bill, “but emphasized strongly that she is prepared to jump on board in the coming days.” “I’ll issue my statement tomorrow. But that’s not the end of the process, tomorrow. It’s just the beginning. So, I wouldn’t read too much into it,” Snowe told reporters.
On Sunday, during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Rockefeller criticized the bill’s “network of cooperatives,” telling host George Stephanopoulos that the provision is not an alternative to the public option. A cooperative “really doesn’t work on health care,” Rockefeller explained. “There are fewer than 20 in the country and there are only two that really work. … So it hasn’t had a future, it goes back to the 30s and 40s, and I don’t think you can take the chance. You have to start a national thing all the way up,” he said.