Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says if a bill to reform healthcare fails to pass Congress this year, it could be four years before the issue comes up again. The Republican spoke at a healthcare forum today on the North Iowa Area Community College campus in Mason City.
Grassley says he understands why voters are cynical about the matter, but he believes significant healthcare reform is possible in 2009. "In fact, I would go further to say, if we don’t get it done this year…next year is an election year. The following year is not an election year, but you’re in the cycle of an election of a president and it ain’t going to be done for four years," Grassley said.
The New Hartford resident, who’s the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says he working closely with committee chair Max Baucus of Montana to get a bill through Congress. Grassley says he wants to make sure that any bill would ensure that people would be able to keep their private health insurance.
But, he says a recent study indicates a government-run health plan would attract 119-million people to leave their private insurer.
"It’s quite obvious, if you have 119-million people opt out, you aren’t going to have affordable coverage for those that are left in a private health care system," Grassley said.
The forum, sponsored by the Divided We Fai l coalition, included comments from National Federation of Independent Business state director Andy Warren. He says most small businesses are reaching a point where they can no longer afford to provide healthcare coverage for their employees.
Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa senior vice president Doctor Paul Manternach added that Iowa’s Medicare reimbursement rate is the lowest in the nation, which is hurting the state’s ability to recruit quality physicians.