Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Yarmuth Challenges McConnell to Public Debate Over Healthcare Law

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to publicly debate President Obama’s healthcare law.

The two Kentucky lawmakers have been on opposite sides of the Affordable Care Act for some time, but the two-year anniversary of the legislation being signed into law has put it back in the forefront of the national debate.

Yarmuth has been touting the benefits of the overhaul while McConnell has penned an editorial calling for its repeal leading up to the much anticipated U.S. Supreme Court case on the healthcare law that challenges its unconstitutionality—specifically the individual mandate.

In a telephone interview, Yarmuth told WFPL that McConnell has been misleading the public about several components of the law and should answer constituents in a public forum.

“I would relish the opportunity to debate Mitch publicly about the health care reform law. He continually misstates facts about it. Mitch has a wonderful way of stating things that are not even half the truths and I would just cherish the opportunity to talk with him in public about this,” he says.

McConnell’s office has yet to respond to our request for comment.

Local News Politics

Beshear, Others Seeking Waiver on Healthcare Law Provision

Kentucky is one of several states seeking a waiver from a provision in the new healthcare law.

The law requires large insurance companies to spend at least 85% of premiums on medical care. The commonwealth currently requires 65% of premiums to be spent on care. Governor Steve Beshear’s administration has asked the White House to let Kentucky raise the percentage by 5 points each year until it’s in line with the law. State officials say if the increase isn’t gradual, it could hurt the local insurance market.

Several other states have made similar requests.

Local News Politics

Yarmuth Says The Message Will Be Clearer During New Healthcare Debate

Third District Congressman John Yarmuth says this week’s debate on the repeal of the healthcare overhaul law will give his party a second chance to promote the bill.

Many members of the new House Republican majority say the law is too expensive. They also oppose the provision that requires everyone to own insurance. Yarmuth, who favors the law, says the repeal debate will give he and like-minded Democrats the opportunity to discuss the legislation more clearly than they could when it was first up for a vote.

“The real problem—one of many—with the process of passing that healthcare reform act was we never knew what we needed to talk about until the bill was actually passed, because, ultimately, the Senate changed a lot of things at the very last minute,” he says. “We couldn’t really go to the average American citizen and say, ‘Here’s what it means to you.’ Now we can do that and we can plan to continue do that and, more importantly, the President has made it clear to us that he intends to do that.”

Yarmuth says the repeal is symbolic and unlikely to advance in the Senate. Proponents of the overhaul defend the mandate to own insurance as a necessity, since pre-existing conditions will be eliminated under the law. In regard to cost, Yarmuth cites a Congressional Budget Office report that says the repeal would cost money, rather than save it.

Local News Politics

Yarmuth says Healthcare Debate May Benefit Democrats

Congressional Republicans are gearing up for a vote to repeal the healthcare overhaul law.

Third District Congressman John Yarmuth calls any full repeal of the law symbolic and unlikely to pass the Senate. But, he hopes the majority keeps trying anyway, because it will lead to a new debate on the legislation.

“What they’re going to be doing is proposing to take away some incredible benefits for millions of Americans,” he says. “In Kentucky alone, there will be two million people who once again be subject to lifetime limits on their benefits if they repeal the bill.”

The GOP could also attempt to repeal or de-fund individual parts of the overhaul, but Yarmuth says most of the provisions will likely remain law. Republicans contend that the overhaul is too expensive and the law should not require all Americans to obtain health insurance.

Yarmuth predicts he and his fellow Democrats will spend much of the current session protecting the legislation they passed in the previous Congress.

Local News Politics

Senator Scott Brown Discusses Repeals, Cuts At U Of L

Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts visited the University of Louisville Monday.

Brown won a special election earlier this year to replace the late Ted Kennedy and broke the Democrats’ supermajority in the Senate. In a speech at the McConnell Center, Brown said he was elected to, among other things, fight President Barack Obama’s agenda.

“A whole host of things led to me being the 41st Senator,” he said. “I’m still the 41st Senator. Mr. Leader, you know that. But so is every other Republican.”

Brown said he hopes for more moderate legislation now that the GOP has gained more seats in the Senate and control of the House.

“Now we got some people. Now we can really go and start to work on these initiatives that were passed. And there are a ton of provisions within them that can be done better or fixed better or eliminated altogether, and that’s what we’re going to try to figure out,” he said, specifically referring to the healthcare overhaul and the financial reform bill, the latter of which he supported.

Brown’s speech also focused on reducing spending and keeping taxes at their current levels. When asked where spending cuts should be made, he said that could be determined through a thorough review of all government programs.

“There are a lot of programs that are just obsolete and we need to get them lean and mean. And where other programs need money to do better, great,” he said. “But to list some specific ones, right now, that’s not something I’m going to do, but I think we need to highlight the issues I just referred to.”

Local News

Demonstrators Rally For Single-Payer Healthcare

by Gabe Bullard

The group Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare held another rally in downtown Louisville Wednesday.

It was one of many demonstrations across the country in response to President Obama’s healthcare summit with lawmakers in Washington.

The demonstrators are opposed to most of the legislation on the table. They favor an expanded Medicare system that would provide single-payer healthcare to all citizens.

Kay Tillow helped organize the event. She says even if healthcare overhaul legislation is passed, her grou will still call for more changes.

“We will continue to push because there’s nothing that they are now considering that will solve the problem,” she says.

Opponents of the single-payer plan say it would be too expensive or inefficient. Tillow says high costs and inefficiencies are caused by for-profit insurers.

Local News

Healthcare Protest Held Outside McConnell's Office

ProtestAbout ten area residents gathered in Louisville Thursday to voice support for a single-payer health care plan.

Many of the same demonstrators have held similar protests in the last few months. This particular demonstration was one of about 20 held across the country to mark Human Rights Day.

The protestors are unhappy with the compromises many Democrats have made to the current healthcare overhaul proposal. Harriette Sieler is the secretary of Kentuckians for Single-Payer Healthcare.  She says she’s also not happy with the debate surrounding the legislation.

“Right now in Congress they are saying the eligibility age of Medicare to 55,” she says. “I say lower it to zero.”

The group gathered outside of Senator Mitch McConnell’s office downtown.

Dr. Garrett Adams with Physicians for a National Health Program took issue with Senator McConnell’s recent statement that he hasn’t heard from any Kentucky doctors who support the healthcare overhaul.

“Mr. McConnell’s statement is not correct,” he says. “The facts belie his statement that physicians do not support national healthcare, because they do.”

McConnell is among the proposal’s opponents. He says, among other things, the plan would be too expensive.

Local News

Yarmuth Expects Healthcare Legislation This Year

The House of Representatives will begin debating health care overhaul legislation this week.

HR 3962 was introduced last Friday. After a three day reading period it will go to the floor of the House. Third District Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville says he expects it to pass on Friday with no Republican support.

It will then be reconciled with whatever legislation the Senate passes in the coming weeks. Yarmuth says the House’s plan and most of the Senate bills are fairly similar, but differ in how a healthcare overhaul will be paid for.

“The Senate taxes high-end insurance plans, the premium ones, high-end plans,” he says. “We have a surcharge on the wealthiest .3 of 1 percent of Americans. Those making over a half-million dollars a year or a million dollars per household.”

Yarmuth says he’s expecting final legislation to clear both chambers by the end of the year. Republicans contend the Democratic bills would place too much of an additional financial burden on the government.

Local News

Yarmuth Discusses H.R. 3962

Healthcare overhaul legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives Friday, and Third District Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville expects it to win easy passage.

Yarmuth says H.R. 3962 includes many of the reforms he wanted, and many compromises that were necessary.

He expects it to pass next week without any Republican support. It will then be reconciled with healthcare legislation the Senate passes in the coming weeks. Yarmuth doesn’t expect there to be many changes in either bill during that process.

“We’ve been actually working as much as we could to make sure the lion’s share of the two proposals is the same,” he says. “Most of the two bills is very similar.”

Republicans continue to criticize the proposal as too expensive.

Yarmuth says both chambers have different plans for paying for the overhaul, but he expects final passage of the reconciled legislation by the end of the year.