Tulsa World: Lawmakers Assess Outlook for Health-Care Reform

Aug 30, 2009
In The News

WASHINGTON — Despite the raging national debate over health-care reform, most Oklahomans serving in Congress believe some kind of legislation on that huge and complex issue could pass this year.

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe predicted enough political pressure will be applied that Congress "more than likely” will pass enough of a bill to give President Obama a legislative victory.

Republican Rep. John Sullivan came closest to answering yes.

"Democrats control both houses of Congress and this health-care bill is President Obama’s No. 1 legislative priority,” Sullivan said.

"I believe health care reform will pass during this Congress, but it remains to be seen exactly what that final proposal will look like.”

Rep. Dan Boren, the only Democrat in the state’s seven-member delegation, said a "full-scale, government-run plan is unlikely to pass."

Republican Rep. Tom Cole said reform is possible but only if "everything,” including medical liability reform, is put on the table.

Republican Rep. Mary Fallin declined to speculate on the issue’s fate, and Republican Sen. Tom Coburn declined to comment at all.

Only Republican Rep. Frank Lucas was willing to predict defeat.

"If the conversations I have had with my constituents at the 18 town hall meetings I’ve held this month reflect the thoughts and opinions of Americans across the country — and I think they do — I don’t believe President Obama’s government-run health-care plan will be able to pass in its current form,” Lucas said.

Even those who think the issue could still be alive at the end of the session pointed to the national debate that unfolded during the August break.

"I believe that people all across the country, both Democrats and Republicans, have significant concerns about government-run health care — especially trying to pass it during the middle of a recession,” Boren said.

Inhofe said the legislative process will be affected by the concerns heard from citizens.

"Many Americans have expressed their outspoken opposition to the reforms being pushed by the Obama administration,” Inhofe said.

Cole cited Republicans’ united front in opposing the plan pushed by Democrats.

"However, the real credit for this belongs to the American people who have come out and made their voices heard in August,” he said.

If the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, a group of House Democrats who focus on budget issues, listen to their constituents, Cole said the bill will fail to pass the House.

Fallin said, "It is hard to imagine how any health-care reform bill could pass without the support of the American people."

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