The Senate week in review

News & Politics
I guess it would be cruel for any of his fellow Senators to walk up to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and say "Heck of a job, Billy" in response to the resounding thud made by his 'Health Care Week' when it hit the floor of the Senate last week -- but I would pay to hear one of them say it.

With great fanfare, Frist brought three major pieces of legislation to the Senate last Monday and all three of them were dead by the end of the week. With results like that, the Tennessee Republican should be the odds-on favorite to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) when he retires from the Senate at the end of this year.

The first two bills, S. 22 and S. 23, which were gifts to the insurance industry disguised as malpractice litigation reform, died in less than one day when they failed in a cloture vote (to end debate) and were effectively withdrawn. Both pieces of legislation would have severely limited damage awards on all malpractice suits, with S. 23 capping awards specifically on obstetrics and gynecology cases.

'Health Care Week' ended on Thursday when a bill sponsored by Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY), that would have allegedly lowered the cost of small businesses providing health care to employees -- but at the expense of watering down care so much that the insurance would have practically worthless -- was also defeated by Democrats in a failed cloture vote. Democrats said the proposal would have harmed as many people as it would have helped and the bill was opposed by over 200 health care advocacy groups such as the American Cancer Society.

The week ended without anything of substance being done to help the 46 million Americans who live every day with no health insurance whatsoever.

"To think with American consumers paying over 3 dollars for gas, with college tuition moving beyond the reach of many in the middle-class, with the Iraq war dead approaching 2,500, with immigration a security crisis unresolved, with our country’s deficit standing at 9 trillion dollars, with 46 million Americans lacking health care coverage, we are moving to bills that are unnecessary and go nowhere," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) .

"These two bills are put here as a result of the insurance industry and don't represent a serious attempt to improve health care or the civil justice system in our country."

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