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Health care major issue in Senate race

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Louisiana Health Care and Acorn Mysteries

Louisiana US Senator, David Vitter, had a terrific August. So far, his September might be one he would prefer not to remember. In fact, he’s recently left Louisiana citizens with some real perplexing questions that need clearly needs straightforward answers and one issue is beginning to make a lot of ...

The congressional fight over President Barack Obama's proposed health care plan has, not surprisingly to political observers, become a major issue in Louisiana's U.S. Senate race.

Health care major issue in Senate race

"Right now, it's the No. 1 issue dominating the political scene," said Kevin Unter of the University of Louisiana at Monroe's Political Science Department. So it's no surprise that it would be an issue in an election that's still a year away.

Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter "is trying to be at the forefront of the opposition," he said, while his challenger, conservative Democrat U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, tries to show that he's not part of the liberal wing of his party.

Vitter proclaims in a re-election campaign e-mail message issued Wednesday: "Washington liberals know I'm the biggest thorn in their side when it comes to their disastrous health care agenda. I'll use every procedural tool to take this bill down."

Vitter's message also asks: "Will you help me keep up the fight against Washington's takeover of Louisiana's health care?" The sentence serves as a link to a federal campaign contribution form.

"There's a lot of pressure on both of them," Unter said. Even though Melancon is a conservative Democrat, he's at a disadvantage because "President Obama is not very popular in Louisiana and President Obama's plans are not very popular."

Melancon has joined Republicans in voting against the plan, but Vitter paints him as supporting it because he didn't vote for some Republican committee amendments — the key one to make Congress participate in whatever plan is approved.

Pearson Cross, head of the Political Science Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said the dispute "indicates the 2010 Senate race is nationalized. It's being fought on the terrain of national politics and that presents a very harsh arena. This promises to be a brutal race. It's so intense right now that it's hard to imagine where it will be a year from now."

Vitter never mentions Melancon in the e-mail, but regularly refers to "liberals," as in "Team, the bottom line is that fundraising numbers indicate the strength of support I have as I fight this bill. Every dollar you can pledge right now will represent one more unit of support I can show Washington's liberals when this bill is brought up for a vote."

BATON ROUGE —
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"Right now, it's the No. 1 issue dominating the political scene," said Kevin Unter of the University of Louisiana at Monroe's Political Science Department. So it's no surprise that it would be an issue in an election that's still a year away.

Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter "is trying to be at the forefront of the opposition," he said, while his challenger, conservative Democrat U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, tries to show that he's not part of the liberal wing of his party.

Vitter proclaims in a re-election campaign e-mail message issued Wednesday: "Washington liberals know I'm the biggest thorn in their side when it comes to their disastrous health care agenda. I'll use every procedural tool to take this bill down."

Vitter's message also asks: "Will you help me keep up the fight against Washington's takeover of Louisiana's health care?" The sentence serves as a link to a federal campaign contribution form.

"There's a lot of pressure on both of them," Unter said. Even though Melancon is a conservative Democrat, he's at a disadvantage because "President Obama is not very popular in Louisiana and President Obama's plans are not very popular."

Melancon has joined Republicans in voting against the plan, but Vitter paints him as supporting it because he didn't vote for some Republican committee amendments — the key one to make Congress participate in whatever plan is approved.

Pearson Cross, head of the Political Science Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said the dispute "indicates the 2010 Senate race is nationalized. It's being fought on the terrain of national politics and that presents a very harsh arena. This promises to be a brutal race. It's so intense right now that it's hard to imagine where it will be a year from now."

Vitter never mentions Melancon in the e-mail, but regularly refers to "liberals," as in "Team, the bottom line is that fundraising numbers indicate the strength of support I have as I fight this bill. Every dollar you can pledge right now will represent one more unit of support I can show Washington's liberals when this bill is brought up for a vote."
(2 of 3)

But in the many "town hall" meetings Vitter conducted during the August break, he regularly targeted Melancon for voting with "liberals" and criticized him for not holding town meetings.
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Melancon issued his own e-mail Wednesday criticizing Vitter's support of a Pelican Institute for Public Policy report that targets the proposed health care plan as a financial burden but also has some controversial suggestions. The 34-page report has a two-page conclusion that suggests several changes — a few of which reflect Vitter's stand, like allowing interstate purchasing of insurance and reforming tort laws — but also some he wouldn't support.

Based on a published account of a press conference in which Vitter joined Pelican Institute President Kevin Kane, Melancon's message says: "David Vitter has made yet another deeply troubling move that is nothing but bad news for the people of Louisiana."

The news story states: "U.S. Sen. David Vitter has endorsed a new study from a conservative think tank that calls for scrapping the nation's employer-based health insurance system in favor of individually owned policies and converting the Medicaid program into vouchers for private insurance."

Melancon's e-mail says: "If Vitter's plans were instituted, almost two million Louisianans would be thrown off their existing health care plan and forced to buy insurance on their own. How can David Vitter justify putting that additional financial burden on working families, especially during these tough economic times?"

Kane said Wednesday: "Sen. Vitter's participation in our press conference can reasonably be viewed as an endorsement of our conclusion that Obama's proposals would take us in the wrong direction" but not an endorsement of the proposals at the end of the report.

Vitter said on his Facebook account that the report contained "common sense conservative reforms."

Kane said Vitter said "nothing about 'scrapping employer provided healthcare' or vouchering the entire Medicaid program. Our report doesn't even say that."
(3 of 3)

The report suggest beginning "with individual ownership of insurance policies. The tax deduction that allows employers to own your insurance should instead be given to the individual."
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It also suggests reallocating "the majority of Medicaid spending into simple vouchers for low-income individuals to purchase their own insurance. An income-based sliding scale voucher program would eliminate much of the massive bureaucracy needed to implement today's complex and burdensome Medicaid system" and would save money.

Melancon cautions :"If the Vitter Health Care Plan were enacted, millions of Louisianans would be forced to purchase health care coverage on the open market, where they'd have to pay much more out of pocket and face discrimination for pre-existing conditions.

"All that said, my opponent is right on one thing — we desperately need to change the way our health care system works," he said "But throwing people off their existing plans is absolutely the wrong way to do it. Instead, we need to focus on how we can lower costs and expand coverage — not the opposite."

Melancon concluded his e-mail with a contribution link.

William R. "Bob" Lang, a Natchitoches independent who is campaigning for the Senate, said "Congress shouldn't even be talking about health care because it's not in the constitution. It ought to be a private issue for individuals."

Melancon issued his own e-mail Wednesday criticizing Vitter's support of a Pelican Institute for Public Policy report that targets the proposed health care plan as a financial burden but also has some controversial suggestions. The 34-page report has a two-page conclusion that suggests several changes — a few of which reflect Vitter's stand, like allowing interstate purchasing of insurance and reforming tort laws — but also some he wouldn't support.

Based on a published account of a press conference in which Vitter joined Pelican Institute President Kevin Kane, Melancon's message says: "David Vitter has made yet another deeply troubling move that is nothing but bad news for the people of Louisiana."

The news story states: "U.S. Sen. David Vitter has endorsed a new study from a conservative think tank that calls for scrapping the nation's employer-based health insurance system in favor of individually owned policies and converting the Medicaid program into vouchers for private insurance."

Melancon's e-mail says: "If Vitter's plans were instituted, almost two million Louisianans would be thrown off their existing health care plan and forced to buy insurance on their own. How can David Vitter justify putting that additional financial burden on working families, especially during these tough economic times?"

Kane said Wednesday: "Sen. Vitter's participation in our press conference can reasonably be viewed as an endorsement of our conclusion that Obama's proposals would take us in the wrong direction" but not an endorsement of the proposals at the end of the report.

Vitter said on his Facebook account that the report contained "common sense conservative reforms."

Kane said Vitter said "nothing about 'scrapping employer provided healthcare' or vouchering the entire Medicaid program. Our report doesn't even say that."

The report suggest beginning "with individual ownership of insurance policies. The tax deduction that allows employers to own your insurance should instead be given to the individual."

t also suggests reallocating "the majority of Medicaid spending into simple vouchers for low-income individuals to purchase their own insurance. An income-based sliding scale voucher program would eliminate much of the massive bureaucracy needed to implement today's complex and burdensome Medicaid system" and would save money.

Melancon cautions :"If the Vitter Health Care Plan were enacted, millions of Louisianans would be forced to purchase health care coverage on the open market, where they'd have to pay much more out of pocket and face discrimination for pre-existing conditions.

"All that said, my opponent is right on one thing — we desperately need to change the way our health care system works," he said "But throwing people off their existing plans is absolutely the wrong way to do it. Instead, we need to focus on how we can lower costs and expand coverage — not the opposite."

Melancon concluded his e-mail with a contribution link.

William R. "Bob" Lang, a Natchitoches independent who is campaigning for the Senate, said "Congress shouldn't even be talking about health care because it's not in the constitution. It ought to be a private issue for individuals."

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Health care major issue in Senate race
Health care major issue in Senate race

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