Wicker, Cochran oppose Senate panel’s health care bill

The health care reform bill approved Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee didn’t win over Mississippi’s Republican senators.
Both Sen. Roger Wicker and Sen. Thad Cochran say they can’t support the legislation, which would require most Americans to buy health insurance, keeps the estimated price tag under $900 billion over 10 years, and doesn’t include a public option.
“If I was a member of the Finance Committee, I would have voted against the action it reported today,” Cochran said in a statement. “I think it leads to more questions and provides us with few, if any, answers to our national health care needs.
“We don’t know if insurance premiums will go up or down, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”
The bill, which would cost an estimated $829 billion over 10 years, passed out of the finance committee with a 14-9 vote with Maine’s Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe crossing party lines.
Wicker didn’t have anything good to say about the Finance committee’s version of health care reform.
“The Finance Committee bill is bad for the economy, bad for the deficit, and doesn’t provide better health care,” Wicker said in a statement. “It is an enormous expansion of federal power that will raise health care premiums, cut Medicare, and result in higher taxes. In short, it takes us in the wrong direction when we should be cutting the deficit and providing more competition.”
Now Senate leaders will have to work to merge the Finance Committee bill with the more expansive health care bill put forward by the Senate’s health committee with an eye toward ultimately reconciling it with the proposals passed by House committees.
In the House, Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., has been tuned in to developments in the Senate, but his time and energy is concentrated on his side of the Capitol.
“My primary focus is still on lowering health care costs for hard-working north Mississippians and passing reform that doesn’t add to the deficit,” Childers said. “While I’ll continue to pay attention to the bill’s movement in the Senate, my jurisdiction and focus remain in the House, where even a final piece of legislation has a lot of hurdles to overcome.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal