But the main local story at the moment comes from KTUU Channel 2. A few Democrats praised the bill. Jonathan Teeters, the Alaska director of Organizing for America, says the bill will help thousands of Alaskans. He says it will give a major tax break to middle-class families, and ban insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions. "This will cover more than 90,000 uninsured Alaskans, and it's going to help small businesses afford to provide (health care) coverage for their employees," Teeters said. "So I think all the way around, it's a major step forward."
However, Teeters' statement is a partial lie, as Alaska Governor Sean Parnell points out in his statement. Teeters assumes that all uninsured Alaskans will be able to pay for the insurance they'll be forced to buy as a result of this bill. Governor Parnell states:
This is public policy at its worst. I am very concerned with the impacts this bill will have on Alaska's seniors, families, small businesses, and physicians. For the many Alaskans currently unable to afford insurance, this legislation will do nothing but require that they purchase health insurance. This bill will increase insurance premiums and do very little to ensure that patients have access to needed health care professionals.
Exactly. If someone doesn't have health insurance now because they can't afford it, how does this bill help them afford it?
Congressman Don Young also issued the following statement on his website:
“Today is a very bad day. Today, the people’s House turned its back on the people. Today, a bill was rammed down the throats of good Americans who trust us to preserve their freedoms and today, those freedoms were stifled. Thousands gathered on the National Mall this weekend to let their voices be heard because they are scared. They are scared that their liberties are being stomped on and they are scared of the government intrusion in their lives and they are right. This Administration force-fed America a bill that will increase premiums while growing inefficient government bureaucracy by establishing nearly 160 new boards, commissions, and programs. This bill doesn’t include real health care reform, it’s reform in name only. What we passed is composed of ego and partisanship, and does nothing to help Alaskans and nothing to help our country.”
But Congressman Young was just getting warmed up. Young said he opposed the legislation because he believes it is too inflexible and bulky. While he agreed with the bill’s take on tort reform and eliminating pre-existing conditions, those positives were packaged with stipulations and rules that hurt the health care system. “(There are) six or seven good things, but no, they had to take the whole barn, and this is a big barn and the roof is leaking,” he said. Young’s list of the bill’s flaws includes the creation of 160 grant programs, 110 agencies and 13 “health czars.” Congressman Young also questioned the constitutionality of the bill. He believes it's illegal to require people to buy health insurance.
Senator Lisa Murkowski decried the fact that Americans will have to pay four years of taxes before they get the benefits, comparing it to making mortgage payments for four years before moving into a new home. Senator Mark Begich has not published an official reaction, but according to an e-mail from press secretary Julie Hasquet, he is reportedly “pleased to see health reform moving forward”. And Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich, wants the court system to throw out the health care bill. "Hopefully in their rush, they will have made enough mistakes -- random violations, willful violations of the Constitution -- that we will be able to get the courts to throw much of this out, like much of the Roosevelt-era New Deal was thrown out by the courts," Ruedrich said.
All is not lost yet. House Democrats must now steer a package of fixes to the healthcare bill through the Senate by using the arcane budget reconciliation process. The maneuver allows Senate Democrats to skirt a GOP filibuster and pass the package with only 51 votes rather than 60. But if Republicans succeed in making any changes to the package on the Senate floor -- as Democratic officials acknowledge is possible -- the House would have to take another healthcare vote.
But if it ultimately passes and Obama signs it, lawsuits are very much in the offing. As early as September 2009, plans were being formulated to sue in the event of passage. The first task would be to find people or groups "with standing" to file the suits. It won't be difficult to find willing groups or employers if the mandate to require people to buy health insurance remains part of the bill. Most of the conservatives involved say that the mandate amounts to a tax and that it will be fought on constitutional grounds. Also, the lawsuits won't be filed just in federal court in Washington. Sources say the suits will also be filed in most states and in as many courts as possible to avoid putting all eggs "in just a few baskets." Florida and South Carolina may be the first to file lawsuits.