Weiner: Obama Admin. 'Half-Pregnant' with Health Industries

Published on
by
The Hill

Weiner: Obama Admin. 'Half-Pregnant' with Health Industries

by
Jordan Fabian

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that the Obama administration is "half-pregnant" with health insurers and pharmaceutical companies, which may jeopardize the success of reform.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that the Obama
administration is "half-pregnant" with health insurers and
pharmaceutical companies, which may jeopardize the success of reform. 

The
congressman -- who is a leading liberal voice in the healthcare reform
debate -- said that rumored deals the White House has struck with big
pharmaceutical companies and insurers may guide them to abandon key
elements of reform, such as a public health insurance option.

"The
Obama administration is trying to be, I don't know how to put it,
half-pregnant with the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical
companies," he told WNYC Radio today. "They're to some degree the
source of our problem."

The Energy and Commerce
committee member also criticized the White House's effort to attract
bipartisan support for healthcare reform, saying both efforts will
water down provisions favored by liberals and turn the bill into a
failure.

"I
think the White House very much wants to have, even if it's just one
person, the ability to say that this is a bipartisan outcome," Weiner
said. "And my frustration is we are really as a party are flirting with
the notion of minority rule here."

Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.),
and Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) are
currently drafting a final bill along with White House advisers. 

Individuals
involved in the negotiations have indicated that a public option is
still on the table to be included in a final bill. But some observers
have indicated they may drop it because it may not attract a 60 senator
majority need to break a potential filibuster. 

Yet, Weiner
challenged his party leaders to include the option, saying that
Democrats are "perilously close" to failing to pass a healthcare bill
that would reduce costs and cover enough uninsured individuals. 

"Are
we going to plow through this or are we going to keep worshiping at the
altar of bipartisanship even when it only means essentially one
Senator?"

The sixth-term lawmaker also called on his fellow
Democratic lawmakers to stand behind a Democrat-only push to pass
healthcare reform, saying that negotiations are now in a "post-Olympia
Snowe period."

Though he favors a "strong" public option,
Weiner made no secret of his support for a single-payer system under
which the government would provide or pay for universal healthcare. 

"For me a strong public option is a compromise position from my advocacy for single payer," he said.

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