Sen. Whitehouse, Stabenow Say Dems Will Pursue Health Care Reforms AFTER Legislation

by Sam Stein
The Huffington Post
12/11/2009

Senate Democrats are already lowering expectations for the final health care bill, insisting that there will more efforts at reform to come.

In a conference call with reporters on Friday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) both stressed that they will continue to try to tinker with changes to the health care insurance and delivery system and the pharmaceutical industry, even after legislation passes.

“This is fairly clearly the beginning and not the end of health care reform,” said Whitehouse. “There is going to be an awful lot of oversight of the big programs, which is necessary. We have got to change the delivery system so it provides better health care to Americans with less… And the ongoing nature of this continuing effort to make the American health care system one we can be really proud of is one that will allow plenty of time for people to continue to advocate for their views. It is not as if, if you don’t get your voice heard in this particular episode, or if you don’t win the program or position that you wanted in this particular episode, you have to walk away for ever. This is going to be continuing.”

Whitehouse is right in a narrow sense. Additional health care related legislation will be considered once — or if — the current round of massive reform becomes law. But his remarks seem aimed at diffusing anger (largely from the progressive community) over the concessions granted during the current process of reform. Both senators, for instance, said they are personally discouraged by the deal cut by the Obama White House to limit the government’s ability to negotiate prescription drug prices in exchange for help from Big Pharma in passing reform. But Stabenow, for one, suggested that she was willing to swallow that disappointment in hopes of future action.

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