Sen. Roberts: We Need To Give Health Insurance Lobbyists ‘At Least 72 Hours’ To Read The Bill

During the Senate Finance Committee’s mark-up session of the health care reform bill today, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) — who has had a hard time staying awake during these meetings — offered an amendment that would have delayed “a committee vote for two weeks.”

Bunning requested that the Committee put-off a vote on the health care bill until the final legislative language of the bill is made available on the Committee’s website for at least 72 hours. The amendment failed, with all of the Democrats except Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) voting against it. But had the amendment passed, it could potentially have halted the health care debate for weeks.

Before the vote took place, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) offered a defense of Bunning’s amendment by arguing that the 72-hour provision was critical because it provides time for senators to consult with health insurance lobbyists:

All the Senator from Kentucky is asking is for 72 hours to determine the cost. Senator Snowe has spoken eloquently about sunshine, and the openness, and the fact that the American people would support this 90 percent, 95 percent. But the thing that I’m trying to point out is we would have at least 72 hours for the people that the providers have hired to keep up with all of the legislation that we pass around here, and the regulations that we pass around here, to say “hey, wait a minute. Have you considered this?” And that’s all I’m asking for — is not only cost, but also the content of a bill. And that 72 hours, I think, is highly, highly important.

To be clear, Roberts is referring to health insurance lobbyists when he references the “people that the providers have hired to keep up with all of the legislation.” Watch it:

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Roberts has received over $172,000 in political contribution from insurance companies over the last five years. Unsurprisingly, Roberts opposes a public option because, he claims, “it won’t work.” Presumably, that’s because that’s what health insurance lobbyists have told him.