Earlier this month, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), whose dedication to finding a health care reform compromise is increasingly being doubted by progressives, fearmongered about supposed rationing that could result from reform by invoking Sen. Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) battle with brain cancer. “In countries that have government-run health care, just to give you an example,” said Grassley. “He would not get the care he gets here because of his age.” In an interview with NPR today, Grassley said he regretted using Kennedy’s name:
But in recent days, Grassley’s comments suggest that he’s doing some of the pushing. During town hall meetings in Iowa, he alluded to government programs that would “pull the plug on Grandma.” He recently engaged in a tit-for-tat Twitter argument over health care “death boards” with Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Democrat. And he invoked gravely ill Sen. Edward Kennedy when inaccurately suggesting that under a British-style, state-run health plan, the Massachusetts Democrat would have been denied treatment for cancer because of his advanced age.
“I regret using Sen. Kennedy’s name,” Grassley told NPR. But he said he has no regrets about comments he made about British-style health systems, or addressing concerns — real or imagined — about end-of-life issues under a government plan.
In the same interview, Grassley also appeared to shift his “make-or-break issues” for a compromise. Yesterday, he told National Review that he needed “no public option, no rationing, no government bureaucrats getting between doctors and patients, and tort reform.” Today, he added one more item to the list, making it “No public option, no pay-or-play, no things that are going to lead to any rationing of health care, no interference with doctor-patient relationships, and tort reform.” Pay-or-play refers to a mandate requiring employers to either provide employee health coverage or pay a tax.