Nelson Makes Plea for Health Care Bipartisanship

Posted September 2, 2009 at 9:37am

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) on Tuesday made another plea for bipartisanship on health care, but declined to propose the specific policies he would like to see in the legislation due to be finalized after Congress returns from the August recess.Nelson, a moderate Democrat representing a conservative-leaning state, said in an opinion piece he wrote for the Lincoln Journal Star that a month of town-hall meetings with constituents on both sides of the health care debate has convinced him that moving forward with a bipartisan health care reform bill is the best way forward. However, despite calling for broadly supported policy proposals — such as outlawing insurance companies from denying health coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, Nelson did not offer an opinion on some of the most contentious issues standing in the way of a consensus reform bill, including whether to implement a public insurance option.“In my view, bipartisan legislation translates to better legislation and incorporates broader policy solutions to today’s health care problems. Many people are rightfully leery of government. It will be difficult to achieve a bipartisan bill. But it will be even harder to push through a purely partisan bill,— Nelson wrote. “When Congress reconvenes next week, I hope colleagues return from home with a greater sense that this target is within reach. By shedding disagreements and focusing on practical health care reforms we also can cast aside lingering fears of a government takeover, runaway deficit spending, tax increases, or coverage for abortions or illegal immigrants.—Senate Democratic leaders are keeping open the option of passing health care reform via reconciliation, should bipartisan efforts that could garner at least 60 votes fail. The reconciliation tool would enable Democrats to avoid the 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass a health care reform bill with 51 votes. Nelson’s vote could be crucial in either scenario.