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Dems face resistance at home - from both sides - on health care votes

From the archive: This story is more than 10 years old.

Dems face resistance at home - from both sides - on health care votes

The Washington Post: Rep. Betsy Markey, D-Colo., "a first-term Democrat in a Republican district, was one of just eight House members who switched their votes from 'no' to 'yes' when President Obama's health-care bill finally passed Congress. Her vote left the endangered incumbent in an even more precarious position. . . . What is clear on the ground here is that passage of the health-care law has not stilled the debate. The district is as divided as ever, with Markey and her leading rival jockeying to shape perceptions of how the vote is playing . . . " Both Markey and chief challenger state Rep. Cory Gardner say the vote has helped them with fundraising (Balz, 4/5).

In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces a primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who is is "attacking Lincoln from the left," The Washington Post reports in a separate story. "Liberal Democrats, frustrated with President Obama and Congress, cheered the chance to make Lincoln pay for her opposition to a government-run health insurance option and the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize" (Slevin, 4/5).

Politico: Liberals who have been critical of some Democratic lawmakers on health reform are beginning to lighten up to help incumbents, such as Ohio's Rep. Zack Space, retain their seats. "Past campaign supporters claim their congressman's decision to flip from 'yes' on the bill in November to 'no' in March reinforced a deep sense of cynicism about politics. And yet most of them plan to vote for his reelection. As unhappy as they are about Space's health care vote – and as distasteful as they found it – many local labor officials, party leaders and activists say the alternative is far worse. . . . It's a familiar sentiment in the 34 House districts currently inhabited by Democrats like Space who bucked the party on the historic health care vote, with the initial rage and promises of ballot box retaliation giving way to a more measured calculus that accounts for the hard local political realities in many of those seats" (Hohmann, 4/3).

Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times: Rep. Joseph Sestak, D-Del., is encountering vocal proponents and critics during the recess. "A supporter of the health care legislation, Sestak said he expects the critiques and the approval and wants to learn from both. 'This is certainly a responsibility of a representative,' he said, adding that more town halls will be scheduled to allow people to voice their opinions. 'We're going to continue to do these'" (Carey, 4/4).

The Hill: House Chief Deputy Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in the Republican address this weekend that the health reform law will destroy American businesses. "'Major employers are already being squeezed because of the tax increases and cost hikes thanks to the new healthcare law signed by President Obama,' McCarthy said. 'The new law is just the latest in a series of anti-taxpayer policies coming out of Washington that is making it harder for Americans to save, invest, and hire, but it is by no means the last'" (Fabian, 4/3).  

The New York Times: In the meantime, a Republican urologist outside Orlando has taped a sign up outside his office telling Obama supporters to go elsewhere. "'If you voted for Obama,' says the taped-up sign, 'seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now. Not in four years.' . . . Perhaps it was just a matter of time before the partisan rancor surrounding health care found its way into patient care. Civil rights law prevents discrimination based on sex or religion, but experts say that political differences are not specifically protected – consider it a pre-existing condition that can still be used for patient filtering" (Cave, 4/2).

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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