Pro-Life Democrat Predicts Senate Health Care Bill Will ‘Go Down in Flames’ in House, Unless Changes Made

December 23, 2009 - 5:16 PM
The Senate health care bill is dead on arrival in the House, unless special "carve outs" for Medicaid funding are removed and changes are made to the abortion language, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) told CNSNews.com on Tuesday.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) –The Senate health care bill is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives unless major changes are made, including removal of special “carve outs” for Medicaid funding for certain states and inclusion of language barring taxpayer-funded health plans that cover abortions, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) told CNSNews.com on Tuesday.
 
Faced with the possibility that House Democratic leaders and the White House will try to force the U.S. House to accept “as is” the health care bill that the Senate is poised to pass on Christmas Eve, the pro-life Democrat said the Senate bill differs too much from the version passed by the House to be accepted.
 
“If they expect the House to accept the Senate bill, it’s going to go down in flames,” Stupak told CNSNews.com in an interview. 
 
CNSNews.com asked Stupak: “Are you prepared to vote for a bill that looks more like the Senate bill – and Senator Nelson’s language on abortion – than the House bill, with your language?”
 
“No, absolutely not,” said the Democratic congressman, whose district encompasses all of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and roughly one-quarter of the territory in the remainder of Michigan.
 
“The Senate bill will not receive support in the House,” Stupak said. “If they tell us we have to take that bill without changes, it will not survive the House. Regardless of the abortion language, there are just too many objectionable items in there that at least I see, and in talking with maybe a half-dozen other members, they sort of see the same thing.”
 
Stupak, like many in Congress, takes strong exception to the fact that, under the Senate plan, certain states would receive special “carve outs” for increased funding for Medicare/Medicaid.
 
“That’s not what it’s all about,” he said. “This is about health care, this is providing health care for all Americans – it’s not to see who can strike the best deal for their state. This is the wrong piece of legislation to try to do carve outs, or get an exception for your state and the rest of the country is supposed to pick up the tab. That’s not what health care is all about. That’s not the policy, that’s not the principle behind the bill.
 
In exchange for their votes for the Senate bill, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) reportedly obtained $100 million in additional Medicaid benefits for Nebraska and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) obtained $300 million in additional aid for Louisiana.
 
In addition, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) managed to obtain a carve-out for 800,000 Floridians, who will keep their Medicare Advantage plans, while those in other parts of the country are slated to lose their Medicare Advantage plans under the bill’s targeted cuts.
 
Stupak was incensed at the special deals.
 
“All the rest of us that live in states that did not receive that exception,  why would we [be] inclined to give Nebraska or Florida or Louisiana a special break underneath the bill and expect the rest of us to pay for it?”
 
Beyond the carve-outs, Stupak pointed out that seniors “take some cuts in the Senate bill that are not found in the House bill [that] members are not going to accept” -- and that the bill would tax people who have “decent” health insurance programs.
 
“Aren’t you really going to force more people off health insurance?” Stupak said.
 
He added: “If you just take a look at my three main constituencies – Right to Life, labor unions, and senior citizens – the Senate bill is contrary to all their interests,” Stupak said.
 
“I’d have no real desire to vote for this bill the way its being outlined in the media," he said. "I know the bill’s not finalized yet, but if that holds true, if they expect the House to accept the Senate bill, it’s going to go down in flames.”
 
Stupak, who succeeded last month in getting 64 House Democrats to join him in attaching his pro-life amendment to the House version of the health care bill, also firmly rejected language in the Senate bill regarding abortion.
 
The “Stupak amendment,” as his provision is known, would prohibit the federal government from allocating taxpayer money to pay for any part of any health insurance plan that covers abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.
 
But the abortion language in the Senate bill secured by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), which attempts to segregate taxpayer money from paying for health plans that provide abortion, does not contain an outright ban on taxpayer money going to fund abortion.
 
Stupak, however, added: “Even if they fixed the abortion language, if it’s the Senate language, I have to vote for – I’m not voting for it.” 

A transcript of CNSNews.com's interview of Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) follows below: 
 
CNSNews.com: "Let’s talk about the health care bill. Yesterday GOP chairman Michael Steele said, quote, 'The fix is in here. There won’t be a legitimate conference. The House members are being told to accept whatever the Senate comes up with. Nancy Pelosi’s going to capitulate on this and the House members are going to have to live with it. They are going to have to eat a whole lot of stuff in the Senate bill that they don’t like and they don’t want.' Endquote."
 
"So let me ask you about that. Are you prepared to vote for a bill that looks more like the Senate bill – and Senator Nelson’s language on abortion – than the House bill, with your language?"
 
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.): "No, absolutely not. The Senate bill will not receive support in the House, if they tell us we have to take that bill without changes, it will not survive the House. Regardless of the abortion language, there are just too many abortion items that at least I see, and in talking with maybe a half-dozen other members, they sort of see the same thing."
 
Rep. Stupak: "I mean, you see certain states getting certain special carve-outs in this legislation – that’s not what its all about. This is about health care, this is providing health care for all Americans its not to see who can strike the best deal for their state. This is the wrong piece of legislation to try to do carve-outs, or get an exception for your state and the rest of the country is supposed to pick up the tab. That’s not what health care is all about – that’s not the policy, that’s not the principal behind the bill. There’s a lot of strong objections to the Senate bill and what’s been done thus far."
 
CNSNews.com: "Okay, do you have – or are you saying -- that you have the votes to stop it, if that’s the case?"
 
Rep. Stupak: "Well, what I’m saying is, what you just read is that the House is going to have to accept the Senate bill and it would not be a true conference -- and we’re just going to have to accept the Senate bill as is. Well, I’ll tell you, it will not be accepted."
 
Rep. Stupak: "Number one, you have certain [states] and certain exceptions. All the rest of us that live in states that did not receive that exception, why would we incline to give Nebraska or Florida or Louisiana a special break underneath the bill and expect the rest of us to pay for it?"
 
Rep. Stupak: "Secondly, people who have decent health insurance programs – we’re going to tax them, aren’t you really going to force more people off health insurance? Thirdly, the seniors take some cuts in the Senate bill that are not found in the House bill members are not going to accept. If you just take a look at my three main constituencies – Right to Life, labor unions, and senior citizens – the Senate bill is contrary to all their interests, so there’d be no – I’d have no real desire to vote for this bill the way it's being outlined in the media. I know the bill’s not finalized yet, but if that holds true, if they expect the House to accept the Senate bill, it’s going to go down in flames.”

To listen to the interview, click here.