Democrats try to reframe health care debate

January 18, 2011 8:23:18 PM PST
Republicans in the House of Representatives are getting ready to make their case for repealing the Obama administration's new health care reform law. Some Democrats are also making their own case to keep the law in place.

Opponents of health care reform say they've won the debate with this last election, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Democratic caucus in the House are attempting to reframe that argument.

On Tuesday, in the House Republicans argued for repeal. One Republican called it the "Democrats' job-stifling, cost-increasing, freedom-limiting health care law," and another said, "This new law is a fiscal house of cards and it is a health care house of cards."

And at the same time Democrats held their own hearing, calling witnesses to describe how the health care law has helped them.

"I wish I could explain to you what it is like every day with the knowledge that your breast cancer could come back," said San Diego resident Vernal Branch.

"I will lose the freedom to keep my job if efforts to repeal my protections are successful..." said Palm Harbor, Florida resident Edward Burke.

"However you want to slice this pie, there are millions of people who now have protections," said Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.

And in Oakland the grassroots organization spawned by the Obama campaign, Organizing For America, held its own local version. Julie Andersen's daughter needs meds costing $400 a month and under the health care law she can remain on her mother's insurance.

"I was so happy because I wouldn't have been able to afford to keep her on her medication and it's vital for her to be able to live," said Brentwood resident Julia Anderson.

San Francisco resident Wendy Aragon's pre-existing condition kept her from getting affordable coverage.

"I really want to ask Republicans 'What have I done as a healthy individual, young person to be denied health care because of pre-existing conditions that I can't control," said Aragon.

Republican Thomas Lorentzen is the former regional director for Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush.

"Well it's not easy for them to re-frame it now. I believe they framed it incorrectly at the inception," said Lorentzen.

Lorentzen also said the Democrats are bringing up popular parts of the legislation, but leaving out the unpopular parts.

"Well the mandate in particular is something that overwhelmingly Americans are uncomfortable with, a mandate," said Lorentzen.

The latest Kaiser Foundation tracking poll confirms the great majority of those polled would repeal the health care mandate and a smaller majority would oppose the law overall.

"And there's too much uncertainty there that makes too many people nervous and uncomfortable and even a little afraid," said Lorentzen.

Democrats in Congress are attempting to move those numbers, figuring time is on their side as the vote to repeal in the House will die in the Democratically-controlled Senate.

Meanwhile the number of states challenging the health care law in the courts grew to 27 as Florida filed a motion to join a multi-state challenge. But Gov. Jerry Brown's Health and Human Services secretary was quoted on Tuesday saying this state is absolutely committed to implementation.