As Kennedy is memorialized, talk turns to impact on health legislation

Politico: "It was an Irish wake with an edge. Tales about Teddy Kennedy's sailing and lousy singing voice got big laughs at his Friday night memorial service at Boston's JFK Library — but it was a call to use his death as a spur to pass health care reform that ignited the passion of those gathered to honor him. Kennedy's family and friends, led by his nephew Rep. Joe Kennedy and Senate brother-in-arms John Kerry, celebrated the Massachusetts Democrat's 77 years by vowing to carry on his fight, despite GOP warnings against politicizing his passing."

"Joe Kennedy likened his uncle's passion for sailing to his passion for health care reform, pounding the podium as he repeated Kennedy's advice to him. 'Don't ever, ever, ever, ever give up,' the former Massachusetts congressman said to a burst of applause" (Thush, 8/28).

The Associated Press: "The left claims the Senate's liberal champion would have settled for nothing less than universal care and a new government-run insurance option. Republican foes of those ideas say the Democrats should take a lesson from Kennedy's gift for cutting a pragmatic deal and sacrifice some of their priorities in the interest of a bargain the GOP could support."

"Kennedy's friend, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., has suggested naming the health overhaul legislation after Kennedy, and a liberal political action committee, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC, has launched a Web site,, to press for passage of legislation that reads like a Democratic wish-list and is anathema to GOP lawmakers. ... Conservatives have also tried to use Kennedy's death after a long illness to score their own points in the health care debate. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Thursday on his radio show that it would be absurd to enact a far-reaching health overhaul in Kennedy's name when he 'gave us the most shining example of why this particular bill is so bad'" (Davis, 8/28).

The Hill: "Democrats plan to invoke Sen. Edward Kennedy's name repeatedly in their push for a massive overhaul of the healthcare system, but political insiders in both parties say his name alone will fall far short of the contribution he could have made personally. ... Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) declared his death a reason to 'rededicate our efforts toward passing legislation to provide robust, quality health insurance coverage for all Americans.' But Republicans are not about to be shamed into blindly backing a one-sided bill, and some conservatives have already criticized Democrats for trying to politicize the issue through the use of Kennedy's name. ... Specifically, Republicans want Democrats to abandon their plan to create a broad government-run health insurance program, known as the public option, which conservatives fear would drive most private insurance companies out of business" (Bolton, 8/28).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery of in-depth coverage of health policy developments, debates and discussions. The Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Copyright 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


  1. Denise sasser Denise sasser United States says:

    The political game is making it harder for implementing an effective health care legislation...Don't monetize sikness...Denise Sasser!

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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