A handful of moderate Senate Democrats are looking for ways to roll back the highly contentious individual mandate — the pillar of President Barack Obama’s health care law — a sign that red-state senators are prepared to assert their independence ahead of the 2012 elections.
They haven’t decided whether to propose legislation, but any effort by moderate Democrats that takes aim at the individual mandate could embarrass Obama and embolden Republicans who are still maneuvering to take down the health care law.
The moderates most likely to buck their party include Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana — all of whom are up for reelection in 2012 and represent states Obama lost in 2008.The Democratic moderates said they’re not concerned about how their positioning will affect their party’s overarching political strategy.
“I’m not worried about the politics of this; I’m worried about the substance of it,” McCaskill said. “My goal has always been pretty simple: affordable, accessible, private-market insurance for people in America who want insurance. The politics of this are hard; it’s just easier to stay focused on the substance because that’s what matters.”
It is apparently not so easy to stay focused on substance, since any person of substance who looks at US health financing with an open mind will conclude that the private-market health insurance business model is wasteful. Sen. McCaskill gives away her primary interest in politics while alleging that she really wants to help people in America. Americans don't want health insurance, they want safe, affordable health care.
But to preserve a seat in the Senate, moderate Democrats may be willing to do what most Americans prefer, eliminate the individual mandate. That, of course, will not bring us closer to safe, affordable health care, but perhaps it will end the debate about Obama-care, which has been a distraction away from the real issues related to health system reform.
Dr. Joe Jarvis