LI's King rejects Obama's health care overhaul plan
By Tom Brune
February 23, 2010
WASHINGTON - The health care overhaul plan proposed Monday by President Barack Obama to lure Republican support ran into a quick rejection by Long Island's lone Republican representative.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) condemned Obama's proposal - the first he has offered - as "just a recycled version of government run health care."
The criticism, echoing reactions of Republican leaders, raised questions about whether Obama will be able to forge the bipartisan support he needs to pass a health care bill.
But Long Island's four House Democrats, though generally supportive, also raised concerns about Obama's plan, which is based on the Senate health bill with changes from the House version. They complained the plan does not include a public option insurance plan and retains a tax on so-called "Cadillac" or expensive insurance plans.
They also had questions about whether it adequately covers the expanded Medicaid costs for states such as New York. It doesn't, according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's press office.
Obama's proposal was released Monday in anticipation of Thursday's health care summit of top Democrats and Republicans at Blair House.
"This is an important step in reaching out again to get a bipartisan bill, which is still possible if both sides work together," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who, according to an aide, will participate in the summit.
"But it is only a blueprint, and as on so many issues, the devil will be in the details."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) praised Obama's "commitment to reform," and urged her colleagues to "return to negotiations in good faith" to expand care and lower costs.
The four Long Island Democrats - Reps. Tim Bishop of Southampton, Steve Israel of Huntington, Carolyn McCarthy of Mineola and Gary Ackerman of Roslyn Heights - said they were still studying the bill.
"Parts of it are encouraging, and parts of it I remain skeptical about," Bishop said.
But all four said they were most interested in whether Republicans will come to the summit to legislate or to fight.
King left little doubt about his view: "This latest Obamacare proposal is just a recycled version of government-run health care with higher taxes and reduced Medicare benefits that the American people overwhelmingly reject."