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Byrd: Rename Health-Care Reform Bill in Kennedy's Honor

Sen. Robert Byrd and Sen. Edward Kennedy, working together in 2003. (The Washington Post)

Updated 5:45 p.m.
By Garance Franke-Ruta
Saying, "My heart and soul weeps at the loss of my best friend in the Senate," Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) called Wednesday for health-care reform legislation currently pending in Congress to be renamed in honor of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died Tuesday night at the age of 77. Online activists separately put out similar calls.

"In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health-care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American," Byrd, 91, said in a statement.

"Neither years of age nor years of political combat, nor his illness, diminished the idealism and energy of this talented, imaginative and intelligent man," he added.

As with Kennedy, poor health forced Byrd to spend much of this year outside of the Senate. In Byrd's case, the cause was an unexpectedly long hospitalization that began in mid-May. He was released from the hospital at the end of June.

Byrd's call was echoed with a twist on Facebook, where a San Francisco man proclaiming himself "overwhelmed with grief" started the group "Name the Public Option AFTER Ted Kennedy."

A separate Ted Kennedy fan page on Facebook with an image marking the years of his life, 1932-2009, had 26,546 supporters by shortly after noon today and was growing rapidly.

And by late afternoon, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC had set up an online petition drive and e-mailed supporters to sign onto their message requesting Kennedy's name be affixed to one specific health-reform bill: "Ted Kennedy was a courageous champion for health care reform his entire life. In his honor, name the reform bill that passed Kennedy's health committee 'The Kennedy Bill' -- then pass it, and nothing less, through the Senate."

Several thousand people rapidly signed on to the "high energy" drive, spokesman Adam Green said.

By Garance Franke-Ruta  |  August 26, 2009; 12:51 PM ET
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Next: Democrats Consider Who Will Succeed Kennedy Atop Health Committee


It looks to me like there are a lot of alternative ideas out there that could be much more sensible than the house bill. Don't pass anything this year. Democrats and Republicans should spend a lot of time together this coming year going over the possibilities, discussing with the citizens, and come up with....perhaps....a uniquely American solution. I am not interested in having Canadian or British medical care if they don't work.

I just got a bill for a medical procedure. The bill was $1,500 but the insurance company paid it off with less than $700. In other words, if you don't have insurance it costs you twice as much. Does this say something?

You can call it anything you want, as long as it is good.

Posted by: hipshot | August 26, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Better late than never. What a kind and thoughtful act this would be. A most fitting tribute to an individual who made being the voice of the comman man his life's work.

Posted by: OHREALLYNOW | August 26, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Alas, the last Gracchus is dead. Who shall be our Tribune, fellow plebs?

I nominate Howard Deane: an Honest and Reasonable Man.

Cumberland, Maine

Posted by: jwhitmansmith | August 26, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

NOT! No healthcare bill, ever. Ted was the biggest freebie giver of all, otherwise he wouldn't have lasted in office for decades. Maybe now the country will stop giving my tax dollars to buy votes.

Posted by: greatgrandmasue | August 26, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse


At least the Democrats in Congress aren't trying to politicize this man's death at all. [rolling eyes]

I agree with everyone who says that those who would say vile things about Ted Kennedy today should be ashamed. Criticism? Fine. But be respectful.

On the other hand, Byrd, Reid and Pelosi should all be equally ashamed of themselves for using such crass and base political tactics while the man's body is still warm.

Except I forgot. Those three know no shame.

Posted by: etpietro | August 26, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

It would a fitting tribute to Senator Kennedy to name the health care bill after him, as he has championed health care for most of his political life. Some of the comments that have posted in the Washington Post and other websites today have been tasteless and quite frankly rude. The man was Senator for nearly half a century and look at the many lives of Americans that he touched in a positive way during his life. There are many politicians and pundits that I do not care for but recognize that others do like them and would not make a negative comment at their passing.

Posted by: Thinking4 | August 26, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Good idea to name the health reform bill after Kennedy, much like they did earlier for Wellstone.

Bad idea to delay health reform to next year. The 25 percent insurance surcharge is already being used to pay $25 mil salaries to the insurers' CEOs and for lobbying costs. The only ones to benefit from a delay are the lobbyists. I'm sure they don't mind "earning" millions of dollars more but the rest of us do mind.

Posted by: chi-town | August 26, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Really nothing more predictable than this ploy. Win one for the Gipper, er, for the Lion!!

If nothing else, one can expect cheap sentimentality coming from congress.

Posted by: Tupac_Goldstein | August 26, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

for all the cynics and critics who call this tribute a sham, political grandstanding or a million other caustic comments as i am sure the ignorant posters on will, let's take a moment and think of what America would have looked like these last 40 odd years without the unabashed idealism and resolve of Ted Kennedy. His public service, his commitment to those in need was legendary. Senator Byrd is right to say that name calling, fighting, and bickering along party longs must stop, and this bill must be passed. If Senator Kennedy's death can be the catalyst for change, the moment that strengthen and shakes democrats out of their current spineless stupor and gets whatever republicans who have souls and are left in the house and senate to stop the fear mongering and work across party lines, then he will not have died in vain.

that being said, the bill that gets passed along to the president must include a public option at its core, it must include end of life planning options, it must include all the provisions that fox news deems important enough to attack. otherwise, it will not be a bill worthy of the name kennedy.

I shudder to think of a senate without Senator Kennedy. His loss is a tremendous one for this country, and I hope that we as Americans are not too cynical to see that.

Posted by: tumbleweedhips | August 26, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

It's obvious that this bill should be put to rest. Just like Mr. Kennedy. We can only hope that HR3200 will lay peacefully next to him as they both get buried. To submit the common man, to borrow a phrase from a poster here, to a government run plan while he enjoyed the best "private" medical care available in the free world, is just another reason why what's good for the goose should be good for all of us.
Ms. Kopeckni's family can finally get closure. Death is the great justice leveler.

Posted by: minuramsey | August 26, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Don't delay. The time to act is now. There has been enough debate and time for ideas to be floated. Those calling for further delays are simply stalling and hoping for another election before legislation goes forward.

Posted by: Viewpoint2 | August 26, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Senator Byrd still has sharp political sensibilities.

Posted by: maddymappo | August 26, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Tupac, your venomous squittering, peddled gratis in every WaPo comment board I've looked at, is about as cheap as it gets. greatgrandmasue, don't worry, the reach of the IRS does not extend to Hell. Thanks to you both and numerous other guttersnipes for helping relace my sorrow with anger and determination to overthrow the wretched system of deprivation you call healthcare.

Posted by: benjaminanderson | August 26, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

NEW YORK, Aug. 25 -- A wealthy investment banker and prominent fundraiser for President Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and other top Democrats was arrested Tuesday on charges that he lied to get a $74 million business loan.
Prosecutors accused Hassan Nemazee of giving Citibank "fraudulent and forged" documents showing that he owned millions of dollars in collateral. A criminal complaint also accuses Nemazee of providing false verifying information for financial institutions, including a phone number that actually belonged to him.
Prosecutors said FBI agents stopped the 59-year-old financier on Sunday at Newark Liberty International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Rome.
Nemazee, chairman and chief executive of New York-based Nemazee Capital, was national finance co-chairman for Clinton's presidential bid last year, and after her primary defeat he raised money for Obama. In 2004, he worked for the presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) as New York state finance chairman.
A Clinton spokesman didn't immediately return an e-mail message seeking comment.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton picked Nemazee to be U.S. ambassador to Argentina, but his nomination was never confirmed.
Nemazee, who did not enter a plea or speak at the court hearing, faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine if convicted.

Posted by: hclark1 | August 26, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

How about, Chappaquidicare? Taking America off the deep end?

Or, Chappaquidicare, whats another few bodies off a bridge?

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | August 26, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

The last time a Kennedy was prostituted posthumously, was JFK for the civil rights act - interestinly enough, if it hadn't been for the racist democrat south, there would have been no need for the bill.

Since Byrd wants to prostitute Teddy's questionable name - I wonder if Sheets Byrd voted for the CRA?

Anybody know where we can see the voting record of that bill?

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | August 26, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

republicons know that if they can delay passage a few more months then we are stuck with the same mess for another decade. They could care less how many children die, how many sick people lose their homes, how many families are ripped apart by our sham of a health care system as long as they can defeat President Obama on this issue. They know that people do not realize what an amazing job the Democrats have done in averting a real economic catastrophe. Since the collapse was averted it becomes invisible.

Name it in honor of Ted. He fought for 45 years to get Americans their basic human right of helath care access. Name it, pass it, and let republicons explain to their constituents why they opposed people being able to take their kids to the doctor. Let republicons explain why they are in favor of medical induced bankruptcy. Let republicons explain why they favor losing your helath care if you change jobs, or why insurance companies should be able to exclude the sick -the people who need it the most - from getting access to health care. Let them explain to all the diabetics in America why they think they should have to pay out of pocket if they lsoe their jobs. Let them explain to hard working middle class families why they should have to take their kid to the ER when he/she has the flu, instead of going to the doctor. Kennedy was a great man.his was a signature issue in his life. Name the bill in his honor, so 50 years from now our grandchildren will be reading with pride about the Kennedy Health Care reform passed by president Obama despite fierce opposition from conservatives, the way we read today about the civil rights acts that were passed after Kennedy's big brother's death despite fierce opposition from conservatives.

Posted by: John1263 | August 26, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes, VirginiaConservative, sadly you are correct that once upon a time, the Democratic party in the South was racist in belief and practise. Fortunately we cleaned house and swept out the racist trash. Then they became Republicans. Please let us know when you sweep them out of your political movement. Until then, surely there is some modicum of personal integrity remaining in you that I could call on to cease perpetrating this grotesque misrepresentation of the facts. Senator Byrd has done much to live down his early association with a terrorist and racist group; would that modern Republicans would follow his example.

Posted by: benjaminanderson | August 26, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I had to comment after reading the first comment above by hipshot. The reason hospitals are forced to overbill is the great unreported secret of the health care system: we are already paying for the health care of the "uninsured". In CA, for example absolutely anyone can walk into a county hostpital and get treatment. The hospital makes zero from that uninsured person, but to make its costs overcharges insurers and out-of-pocket payers out of necessity to make their profit. In the end, that means we're all paying for that persons's health care anyway. Why not pass a reform bill to fix that, and maybe that person gets preventative care instead of urgent care and doesn't cost as much overall.

Posted by: kemurph | August 26, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Naming the National Health Care Plan after Senator Kennedy would be a fitting tribute for someone who worked so hard for Americans.

As I listen to the tributes, I tried to recall Sen. Kennedy ever publicly attacking another person in his 40+ years of public service. He had a vision for our country, was always upbeat and positive. He worked for solutions to problems. Yet we hear how the Republicans could raise millions of dollars by merely mentioning his name.

To them that feel necessary to spew out their hate at this time -- well, shame on you!

Posted by: MNUSA | August 26, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

As a tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy and his dedication and commitment to health care reform, the governor of Massachusetts should appoint former Senator Tom Daschle to the now vacant seat until a special election is held. This will ensure that the dream of health care reform of Senator Kennedy is accomplished. It will also be in keeping with Senator Kennedy's wish that the state law be amended to allow for the temporary appointment of an individual who will not run for his seat in the election in January 2010.

Posted by: benpires | August 26, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Using Kennedy's name to boost sentimentally the health care bill is consistent with a legislative sales job that has lacked substance, detail, transparency, and honesty.

Posted by: hz9604 | August 26, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Attaching Ted Kennedy's name to a bill as unpopular as this one is not a slam-dunk. Ted Kennedy never generated the Camelot nostalgia factor as deeply as his brothers. I don't think it will work -even in the Senate. You're not going to be able to slide this one through under his shroud.

Posted by: joneshn | August 26, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Obama told us on television that the illegal aliens could not access the health care.

He lied to us.

Congressional Research Service: Illegal Aliens Can Receive Benefits Under House Health Care Bill

FAIR, which is an excellent organization
made proposals, and if they are included, I won't actively appose the bill.

Based on its own findings and those of CRS, FAIR is calling on Congress to:

-- Adopt clear language that makes illegal aliens (and nonimmigrants) ineligible for enrollment in publicly
funded or subsidized health insurance programs.

-- Require electronic eligibility verification for any health care reform proposal through the existing Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system.

-- Maintain a five-year eligibility waiting period for legal immigrants to ensure that individuals don't come to the U.S. and immediately tap the system.

Posted by: joelwisch | August 27, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

ObamaCare, PelosiObamaReidcare, Kennedy Care: It is all like putting lipstick on a fascist pig -- a government takeover of health care that (a) violates the rights of patients, doctors, and business owners on a massive scale, (b) overburdens an already precarious economy, (c) threatens our national security by weakening our creditworthiness and becoming overly dependent on China, and (d) marches us all down the road to statism -- whether you call it socialism, fascism, or whateverism.

Whatever you call it, a fascist pig is a fascist pig.

Americans are watching what the politicians are doing. The donkeys and pink elephants who support PORC will have their collective arses grassed (on grass not Astroturf) in 2010!

Dr. Gregory Garamoni
Doctors on Strike for Freedom in Medicine

Posted by: GLGPHD | August 28, 2009 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Let's wear these T-shirts and send them to our representatives in hopes that Congress will get the message and honor Teddy's memory by passing his health care reform bill:

Posted by: vegwriter | August 30, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

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