Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Healthcare Follies Continue

Sometimes, I wonder if the characters in Alice In Wonderland could even adequately describe the insanity of this legislation...
Sen. Tom Coburn drew ridicule last month for trying in vain to prohibit sex offenders from getting Viagra prescriptions under the new health care law.

But Coburn is now having the last laugh after the Congressional Research Service confirmed his assertions that sex offenders not in prison could get Viagra and other drugs treating erectile dysfunction under health plans subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

In a memo to the Oklahoma Republican, who is one of two doctors in the chamber, and provided to, the CRS said there are no provisions in the new health care law "which would require health plans to limit the type of benefits that can be offered based on the plan beneficiary's prior criminal convictions."

...Coburn offered an amendment blocking this to the companion bill that reshaped parts of the health care law. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., dismissed it as a "gotcha amendment" designed to be difficult for Democrats to oppose. But the amendment failed 57-42.
I'm going to give Senator Durbin and his Democratic colleagues the benefit of the doubt and assume they don't want to be on the record as supporting a bill that provides ED products via taxpayer funds to child molesters (there is an interesting legal issue, I imagine, as to whether the amendment Coburn offered would be constitutionally valid, but I don't know that anyone raised it, and I think in normal circumstances legislators would happily allow the courts to figure it out). But assuming that Durbin and the Dems did not want this result, the only reason they voted against Coburn's amendment was procedural, since allowing the amendment would have forced another House vote on the healthcare bill.  So that we're clear, it was so important and pressing to pass this healthcare legislation nownownow (with many of the benefits held in limbo until 2014) that Congress couldn't be bothered to amend language that would prevent taxpayer subsidies being used to pay for ED products going to child sex offenders because of procedural reasons.  And that's the best argument Democrats have for opposing Coburn's amendment.

Anyone still wondering why the Democrats look like they're facing an election bloodbath in November?

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