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<font color="red">Video:</font> Lawmakers Sell Competing Visions Of Healthcare

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-893599.mp3

Dallas – With Congress in recess Texas lawmakers have returned home to sell their visions of the new healthcare bill. KERA's Shelley Kofler says both democrats and republicans think healthcare will help them at election time.

As Senator John Cornyn travels Texas he's reciting the new republican mantra: repeal and replace. That's what he wants to do with the healthcare bill congressional democrats just passed.

Cornyn: Most people, if you believe public opinion polls, didn't like the healthcare bill. Yet Washington decided to jam it down their throats anyway.

Cornyn chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee. It's his job to get republicans elected. He wants voters to see the healthcare bill as a budget buster. He claims it will so raise the national deficit, insurance premiums and costs for small businesses that republican candidates should make it their central campaign issue. Cornyn's urging candidates to back repeal of the bill and replace it with reforms that would lower the cost of healthcare.

Cornyn: Things like health savings accounts which work very well. Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, use them to empower their employees and to make them conscious of spending. We need to establish the same tax treatment for the insurance for you as a sole proprietor or single business person when you buy your insurance as compared to employer provided insurance. That's not provided now.

Johnson: It's not going to be repealed. There might be portions of it they might go after, but it's an illegitimate goal.

That's Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a democrat who voted for the health plan. She knows that some national opinion polls show a majority of Americans oppose the legislation. She believes that will change when they understand what's in it.

Johnson: Reform is in it with eliminating pre-existing conditions that will help a lot of people. Insurance companies cannot drop you when you're sick which is happening every day now. Caps won't be placed on an illness. There are also opportunities for small business in this healthcare. Most small businesses that hire under 50 people have a very difficult time affording insurance. They can group together under an umbrella organization like the chamber of commerce. They can get a tax credit for covering so much of their healthcare.

Congresswoman Johnson accuses republicans of using scare tactics, of opposing the bill because it places more regulation on republican donors in the insurance industry. Senator Cornyn says that's ridiculous. Insurance companies will actually see their business grown.

Cornyn: People who believe only the government can deal with this are necessarily critical of the private sector. But unless you want to have the government run everything in your life we're going to have to have a private sector involved.

As the message to repeal and replace competes with rejoice and embrace there's some indication voters on both sides are listening. A new CNN poll shows an increasing number of republicans and democrats say they're now enthusiastic about voting in the November mid-term elections. More republicans are motivated, but democrats insist that will change once healthcare bill's benefits sink in.