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As Health Vote Nears, Fellow Lawmakers Wonder Where Snowe Will Fall

By Shailagh Murray
Call it the Snowe forecast.

Everyone on Capitol Hill is wondering how Sen. Olympia J. Snowe will vote on the Senate Finance Committee's health-care reform bill once the big day arrives, likely within the next week.

The Maine Republican is the only member of her party considered to be a serious conversion prospect. But although Snowe supported Democrats on many key amendments during the committee's two-week debate on the legislation, she's being cryptic about her intentions -- to say the least.

"Did they get in my brain yet?" she wondered of all the speculators, during a lengthy conversation Tuesday afternoon with reporters. "They've got me voting yes, preserving my leverage. Voting no, preserving my leverage. It's all about what I'm comfortable doing at the end of the day."

As a founding member of the committee's bipartisan "Gang of Six," Snowe has haggled over every provision in the Finance bill. She still isn't sure whether people should be penalized if they don't buy health insurance; whether the coverage Congress would require people to buy would be affordable; and whether a sweeping Medicaid expansion would impose crippling new costs on states.

Will those concerns outweigh the many portions of the bill that Snowe supports? At this point, she can't say. And she warned her colleagues, don't read too much into her Finance vote. "It's trying to do the right thing at this moment in time," said Snowe. "Whatever my vote is in the committee will be my vote for that day. It doesn't mean it's going to be my vote always. I just think that's the nature of this legislative journey we're on."

Nor does Snowe view herself as all that key of a player. "The Democrats obviously have the votes on their side," she said. "They've got 60 votes. The question is whether or not they're willing to entertain changes that can build broader support and achieve a centrist based position on this issue."

By Shailagh Murray  |  October 6, 2009; 4:54 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform , Senate  
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Whatever bill the Democrats present will increase the deficit, cut Medicare, restrict consumer freedom to choose, and fail to address medical malpractice reform. There are sensible reforms that Republicans have proposed, but they would move us away from a government-run system, so they won't even be considered.

Please don't cave, Olympia.

Posted by: emmet1 | October 6, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

The snow needs to fall on the many political figures who have lost touch with the voters. Democrats and President Obama rode into power on a "Change" mandate. Poll after poll shows that more than 60% of Americans want a public option and that they also want multiple choices in private insurance if they are able to take advantage of those options. yet our incredibly smart political leaders, who serve the United States of Insurance Companies, rather than the people of the United States of America, are crafting legislation that forces more people into insurance plans that will give all power of cost control and cost choice to the insurance industry.

What we are seeing is not change we can believe in, it is a continuation of the status quo. The voters of this nation are not going to be snowed under by this political/corporate act and if the deaf ears in DC don't start listening soon, there will be consequences to be paid at the voters ballot box.

To show how screwed up our system is, take my situation. I'm age 36 and blind, while in graduate school after a pair of job layoffs, I lived on Social Security Disability and a part time salary. The SSDI provided me Medicare coverage, coverage that helped me when thyroid cancer was discovered. I did what all great Republicans want you to do, I hung in there, finished my degree, took out loans to pay my part of the bill Medicare did not cover, some where around 4,000 dollars worth. So now I have graduated and taken a full time job working at a local community college. What is my reward you ask? My disability coverage is naturally over, which means Medicare was over as of September 30. When does my work insurance take over you ask? The answer, not till December 1, and what was I told my rights were to get coverage during the 61 day gap, not COBRA, my only option I was told was that I would "have to go to a free clinic".

I'm damn tired of falling through the cracks, as are millions and millions of Americans. Memo Congress, keep selling your political soul to the devils known as the health insurance industry, and countless Americans like myself will gladly watch you burn in the political fires of hell that will assure you of life lasting defeat. Voters like myself will gladly bestow this upon you if the will of the people is not heard. Congress, you all better get to your doctor and use that great public option insurance you get and pay for hearing exams, because it seems that you are all in serious need of them, how else can your actions or the lack their of be explained, oh I forgot, look who shows you the money; the insurance industry. It is government by the people, for the people, not government by the people, for the benefit of the insurance lobby that can afford to buy your access.

Posted by: tx1996aggie | October 6, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

The dollar is falling, gold is well over $1000 an ounce, deficits are out of control by any measure -- four times what they were under Bush, unemployment is about to cross ten percent and who knows when it will come down, taxes are going way up in January AND Obama is proposing big tax increases in the health care bill and in cap-and-trade.

Have we lost our minds? The world financial markets are giving the dollar the same vote of confidence Obama received in Copenhagan. Adam Smith said there's a lot of ruin in a nation. We're about to find out just how much.

Posted by: emmet1 | October 6, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

I was born in Massachusetts but lived in Maine from the time I was about 4 years old until I moved with my family to Oregon. Every time I hear either of the Maine senators names they make me sick. These women are most definitely not indicative of the Maine values I grew up with. What on earth has happened to that lovely State of my youth? I suspect it has been fouled in the same way as my adopted state of Oregon by people who moved to escape the big cities for a quieter more gentle way of life. Unfortunately, these very people usually wind up making a mess of their adopted area by turning it into what they ran away from. Totally disgusting for those who have lived in these states for generations including their grandparents and great grandparents.

Posted by: OregonStorm | October 6, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

snow will vote for whatever obama tells her to. she is a traitor,just like spector,and collins.the stimulous,otherwise known as intercourse bill,that has hurt the economy more than help,was one of snows examples of how she can be trusted.

Posted by: silusdogood | October 6, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Healthcare reform should not only address the obesity epidemic (both in adults and children), but should also take into consideration the rising epidemic of dental disease. Diabetes attributed to obesity is also impacting dental health, gum disease in particular. We lack access to affordable dentists in this country. There has been widespread increase of dental caries in children. As focused as we are on cosmetic dentistry and teeth whitening, in the United States, the aforementioned dental issues need at least equal attention. We need to contact our local congressmen so that dental care is included in the Obama healthcare reform plan.

Posted by: author1 | October 6, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

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