Wyden's Health Care Bill Gains Momentum

Senator Ron Wyden's bill to provide universal health care, the Healthy Americans Act, is getting noticed in the US Senate. Today, four more Senators signed on as co-sponors of Wyden's bill, adding to a bipartisan coalition.

From the Oregonian:

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Tuesday landed four more co-sponsors for his universal health care proposal.

A total of nine U.S. senators have signed onto Wyden's bill. The latest senators to sign on are Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Mary Landrieu, D-La. and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, which oversees taxes and entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Stabenow is a Finance Committee member who has long been active on health care issues.

"The involvement of Sens Grassley and Stabenow, two of the most influential people in the country on health care, has huge implications," Wyden said in an interview Tuesday morning. "When people think about the Finance Committee and building a bipartisan coalition, you go right away to Sens. Grassley and Stabenow."

Wyden's plan has been gaining support from members of both parties:

Wyden announced the Health American Act last December. The bill is a hybrid private/public system, not the completely government run single payer system that some Democrats advocate. Instead, it would eliminate employer-provided health care and provide the money to employees for them to choose private plans. The government would regulate and oversee the system. The bill would require all Americans to have a plan and subsidize coverage for people up to 400 percent of the poverty level.

Earlier this year, Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, signed on as the lead Republican sponsor. That was a large victory for Wyden, because Bennett had been one of the lead opponents of the Clinton health care proposal in the early '90s. Other co-sponsors are Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Judd Gregg, R-N.H. and Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

"Americans want more than talk about fixing health care," Wyden said. "They want action. What a growing bipartisan support for the Healthy Americans Act demonstrates is that Congress is picking up on that message. There have been studies, blue ribbon commissions, commissions on commissions about health care. It's time for action. Now we've got 9 percent of the United States Senate on a bipartisan basis saying we're ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work."

Read the rest. With 4 Democrats and 5 Republicans sponsoring Wyden's bill, can it generate enough support to pass the Senate?

Learn more about the Healthy Americans Act at Wyden's website, Stand Tall for America.


  • Bill R. (unverified)

    I think Wyden's plan has a shot. It can bring on board a good share of Repugs and business interests who want to de-link health insurance from employment, yet provide for universal coverage. That goal is in everyone's best interest.

  • Charlie (unverified)

    Let me say it: I think the Wyden plan is no good.

    1) It hemeroges money. We'll be financing health insurance for people up to 400% of the poverty level?! That is a lot of people and a lot of money if we allow the type of access that Medicare allows.

    2) It doesn't open up government based options that have worked, like the VA or government employees insurance plans. To me this is a big part of any health care reform, non-profit public sector plans to rival the private sector which will attempt to cherry pick those that are low health risks.

  • (Show?)

    ...which will attempt to cherry pick those that are low health risks.

    Fortunately, Wyden's plan specifically bars insurance companies from cherry-picking customers. Under the Wyden plan, any insurance company that wishes to participate must accept all comers, cannot discriminate by price, and cannot take "pre-existing conditions" into account.

  • (Show?)

    p.s. Full disclosure: My company manages Ron's campaign and policy promotion website, Stand Tall for America.

  • Charlie (unverified)

    Kari, You are in fact correct. Ezra Klein, who is far more knowledgeable about Health Care policy than I has an article responding to exactly my objection:


    Should have researched the details of the plan before bashing it. Having looked into it it looks very promising. Best of luck to Senator Wyden in his attempts to get it passed.

  • Brian (unverified)

    I see that my senator, Lamar Alexander is in support of Senator Wyden's plan. I don't believe Tennesseans will support its own Senator for this plan. All of you should check out the history of Tenncare in Tennessee. Any government intervention is the wrong way to address healthcare. Again, check out the history on Tenncare.

    By the way, my employees pay a net of $30 a month for their healthcare (a full plan). When everyone turns their cell phone off and still can't afford healthcare I would be much more open to listening to the problems regarding affordability. Anyone with a job can afford $30 a month in premium payments. It becomes more of a choice than affordability. As an employer, I have no problem offering healthcare as a benefit.

  • trishka (unverified)

    brian, that's amazing! $30/month? wow.

    who is your insurance carrier, if you don't mind my asking.

    if everyone had the option of full coverage for only $30/month, i don't think this discussion would be happening! i know i don't know anyone who gets their insurance for that little.

  • Chris (unverified)

    The Senator's primary focus is on HEALTHcare, rather than the current system of SICKcare we are currently operating. The uninsured use emergency rooms much more frequently than the insured, where costs are nearly ten times as high. These costs are written off by hospitals and also passed on to the insurance companies. Ultimately, the healthcare costs for the sick are paid for by taxpayers and the insured. Anyone who doesn't believe that we have a form of socialized heatlhcare needs to look at the numbers.

    By opening up health insurance to a market of free choice, those uninsured will most likely seek access to affordable healthcare. A favorite line of Sen. Wyden is that American's spend enough annually on healthcare to have a doctor for every 7 people, and that doctor could make $200,000 a year.

    It is also important to note that within this competitive plan, Insurance companies will most likely develop incentives for those who practice healthy lifestyles, much like your car insurance company rewards you for taking a drivers ed course or being a good student. This has been seen in a number of Scandinavian countries who have enacted similar plans.

    HEALTHcare, not SICKcare

  • mark (unverified)

    Get rid of State run workers comp and we could go a long way towards having the money for health insurance. Hang lawyers like John Edwards that run up insurance costs. Pure and simple the dishonest people have caused the problem.

  • Brian (unverified)
    <h2>Trishka, We have a Blues Plan</h2>
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