Locals have mixed views on health bill - The Independent Florida Alligator

Published: 01.04.10| Updated: 01.07.10

In a step toward strengthening President Barack Obama’s call for health care reform, the U.S. Senate passed a bill on Christmas Eve aimed at overhauling America’s health care system.

The final bill, which passed 60 to 39, calls for the injection of $871 billion of government funds over the span of 10 years in order to provide more affordable health care for millions of Americans.

Similar to the House bill, which passed in November, the Senate version has been met with mixed reactions.

 Liberals praise the legislation as a necessary measure, while conservatives are uncomfortable with the bill’s heavy spending and potential invasion of the private sector.

Ben Cavataro, president of the Florida College Democrats, praised the Senate’s ability to pass a bill he said will provide health care to 30 million Americans, strengthen Medicare, reduce the federal deficit by $100 billion over the next 10 years and allow students to remain on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26.

“It’s really a big step forward,” he said. “It’s not easy to get 60 Senators to agree on anything, let alone something as big as health care reform.”

Cavataro said he is disappointed with the Senate bill’s lack of a public option but believes its cuts to inefficient programs and provisions for low-income Americans will offer much-needed relief.

Bryan Griffin, chairman of the UF College Republicans, views the Senate bill as reckless spending resulting from bribes made by politicians bent on staying in power.

He said Democrats want to create public dependence on national health care, which would make it harder for voters to take them out of office.

Griffin pointed to Medicaid provisions to states with Senators on the fence, such as Nebraska and Louisiana, as evidence of shady politicking and the Democrats’ efforts to purchase votes.

“The corruption is really starting to come through,” he said. “If I saw someone in the UF Senate doing what they’re doing in [the U.S. Senate] now, I’d do everything in my power to have them removed. What they are doing is criminal.”

As Americans continue to debate where federal money should go, the issue of abortion has also taken a place in the public spotlight.

Under the Senate bill, Americans with government health plans could use money for abortions as long as they make two premium payments: one for abortion coverage and another for all other medical needs.

Staci Fox, CEO of Planned Parenthood of North Florida, opposes the “segregation of funds” and said these measures discourage women from accessing health services like abortion.

“We don’t want to go backwards and create more obstacles than women already have,” she said. “It’s time for Congress to trust women.” 

Jennifer Cyr, the vice president of the UF Pro-Life Alliance, said most pro-life supporters would not want taxpayer money to fund abortion.

   “I wouldn’t want my money to fund the killing of a person,” Cyr said.

Paying for abortions, according to Cyr, would represent a sense of disrespect for human dignity.

While voters and representatives wrestle with the legislation’s effects, both the House and Senate bills must go through a bipartisan conference committee before becoming law.

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