Sen. Nelson: Go slow on health-care reform
Daytona Beach News-Journal
August 26, 2009
By CLAYTON PARK
DAYTONA BEACH -- U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told a gathering of area business leaders and public officials Tuesday that he has urged the White House to take an "incremental approach" toward solving the national health care crisis, as opposed to "going for the whole ball of wax."
Attempting to push through a sweeping health care reform bill at this time likely would be doomed to failure, said Nelson, D-Fla.
Nelson was the keynote speaker of a luncheon co-hosted by The Chamber, Daytona Beach/Halifax Area, and the Tiger Bay Club of Volusia County. The event, held at the Sunset Harbor Yacht Club, drew nearly 200 people.
While those attending the luncheon included both Democrats and Republicans, with opposing views on health care reform, the event was generally a calm affair, marked with occasional laughter and good-natured ribbing.
The scene inside Sunset Harbor contrasted with the scene outside, where roughly a dozen demonstrators stood on the sidewalk, holding signs for and against health care reform.
Nelson told the luncheon gathering that the health care problem was two-fold: how to provide health care coverage that is not only available to everyone, but also affordable.
Efforts to forge a bipartisan agreement have failed so far, said Nelson, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which would write the legislation if the bill passed.
Nelson said he favors finding ways to lower the cost of health care through eliminating waste, such as duplicate medical testing, and creating insurance coverage exchanges where individuals could band together to buy coverage at lower rates, like employees at large companies. Also, pharmaceutical companies should lose millions of dollars in federal tax deductions for advertising brand name drugs on TV when cheaper generic drugs are available, he said.
"These are examples of steps I think we can reach agreement on to get the bill passed -- incremental steps," he said.
Nelson also addressed other issues. He said he opposed offshore oil drilling along the Florida coast for environmental reasons, to preserve the state's beaches and for national security, referring to the military's use of the region to test new equipment and to conduct training exercises.
He said he believes the federal government's efforts to jump-start the economy through stimulus spending are finally showing signs of succeeding. But, he said, it will take time before the unemployment numbers reflect that recovery, especially in Florida, where the economy has been so dependent on the housing market.
Jeff Feasel, chief executive officer of Halifax Health, said after the luncheon he was impressed by Nelson's assessment of the nation's health care crisis and supported the senator's approach to trying to fix it.
"In all my years of being in health care, the way he summarized it was right on target," said Feasel, who described himself as a political independent.