Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Altmire Voting with Insurance Lobbyists

Buchanan’s bid: Altmire had better dance with his original partners
Monday, October 12, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If politics were tag team wrestling, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan would get in the ring against Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire in the 4th Congressional District race next fall, taking up the fight where Melissa Hart, another conservative supporter of George W. Bush, left off. And like tag team wrestling, it would be sort of fun for those of us in the cheap seats.

Whether she will run isn’t clear yet, but as the Post-Gazette reported Friday, she’s been thinking about it. The district includes northern Allegheny County, all of Lawrence County and parts of Beaver, Butler, Mercer and Westmoreland counties — a socially conservative terrain that offers a candidate like Ms. Buchanan some hope.

Still, for her to succeed, the memory of her fondness for the former president might have to fade, as would the recollection of her ill-fated prosecution of leading Democrat and former Allegheny County Coroner Cyril H. Wecht, whom she pursued with an Inspector Javert-like zeal. But Jason Altmire is a slippery grappler who has covered his political vulnerabilities well.

Too slippery, too well — in fact, moderates and liberals looking for something more than a male Melissa Hart have come to wonder what they have got. They thought they had a progressive cat and they got a Blue Dog. On climate change legislation, they seem to have an agent for coal-fired industry. On health-care reform, they seem to have the health-care system lobbyist he once was (and, yes, Ms. Hart warned us).

If Ms. Buchanan runs, the people she appeals to won’t be voting for Jason Altmire, for all his shifting. And the progressives? Unless he shows them he’s a real Democrat on issues like health care, they just might stay home.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09285/1004773-192.stm#ixzz0TjgjONHt

5 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Altmire Voting with Insurance Lobbyists”

  1. Please explain to me how Jason Altmire is against health care reform? Everything he has said shows that he is clearly in favor of President Obama’s outline of what health care reform should look like.

    The bill he voted against just as clearly did not follow President Obama’s outline, and should be vetoed if by some miracle it passed the house and senate. Altmire’s committee produced a bad bill and he voted against it. It is as simple as that to me.

    I don’t know about you, but I didn’t vote for him to rubber stamp crappy legislation. How many times did the Republicans pass garbage in the name of unity, and see where that got us?

    I am pretty confident he will be there when we need his vote.

    1. Cong. Altmire is not against reform. He wants to reform healthcare to help the corporations in the healthcare field. He has introduced the Quality First Act, according to his website. This bill will take money from the poorer community hospitals and reward the wealthy high tech corporate hospitals that are state of the art. It would do this by withholding 2% of all Medicare reimbursements and then giving that money to the facility based on it “improvement level.”

      Medicare for All would ensure that all hospitals are adequately funded especially smaller community hospitals. Under HR 676 we would have an operating hospital in Aliquippa. Under Altmire’s bill more non-profit and community hospitals are going to close because they won’t be able to compete for that 2% against the well-funded corporate centers.

      Progressive Democrats do not support any reform at any cost. We support reform that will make healthcare available to all at a low cost and with a high quality mandate. Congressman Altmire does not support this kind of reform.

      I agree with you that it is foolish to vote for something that is bad just for unity. Principles come first, then unity.

      I hope your confidence is not misplaced.

  2. We don’t need a “public option.” We need Medicare for all, simple as that. It works great for seniors who get sick a lot. It will work even better for younger people who are more often healthy. The government administers this great program NOW for about 3%, while the insurance companies take over 30%–approximately every third dollar spent on health care. Try to imagine what the millions of dollars paid to fat cat insurance executives could do plowed back into the system. Without this change, costs are continuing to rise at astonishing rates. Soon, only the wealthiest will be able to afford health care. Why are we guaranteed a public education, good roads, fire and police protection, and not public health care? Is it any less a need, or a right? Why is health care currently a highly-profitable business benefitting insurance companies who RIGHT NOW deny care to the sickest of us, including those with pre-existing conditions? How terrible is that? It is obscene, that’s what!

  3. Carolyn, I agree with you that Medicare for all would be the best solution. The problem is that it would never pass both houses of Congress, and we would end up with nothing. That is what Clinton tried to do 16 years ago, and they ended up with nothing.

    Do you want to wait another 16 years for this opportunity?

    1. Mike,
      It’s starting to look like we’ll end up with nothing even if some sort of reform passes.

      If the insurance companies and other wall street interests are so much in charge right now, I’d rather wait than put more power & resources into their hands.

      I don’t think Clinton tried to pass something like HR 676. 676 is very straight forward. Wasn’t the Clinton plan huge and complicated and hard to understand?

      I’m not so sure this situation will hold for 16 years if no real change occurs. The single payer movement is growing and conditions are worsening. If HR 676 won’t pass, then we need to work on changing the legislators/senate, not settle for a really bad piece of legislation that won’t work.

      I’m not necessarily opposed to compromise. But I don’t see any way we can continue to support the insurance companies and forgoe healthcare. We just ca’t afford it.

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