• WisPolitics


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

 10:14 AM 

Feingold says Senate will take a deliberate approach to health care reform

A federal health care reform package isn't likely to be passed out of the Senate until late this year, U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold said in a conference call with reporters this morning.

Feingold said he has heard from constituents that there is a dire need for reform "but that most of all we need to get it right and not rush too much."

The Middleton Democrat said that President Obama has shown "presidential leadership" in pushing the discussion of health care reform onto the national stage and praised Obama for listening to those who are calling for a deliberate process.

"If the president hadn't pushed this, the focus of the country wouldn't be on this issue," he said. "This is presidential leadership."

Feingold said he expects a conference committee of House and Senate members to hash out differences in the legislation in the fall and doesn't expect final passage by the Senate until “right down to the wire near Christmas."

Feingold said a public option is vital to reform, saying it would force the private sector to perform better, provide an option for those who currently don't have insurance and create an alternative for people who are unhappy with their current health coverage.

But he said the reforms will not amount to rationing of health care.

"We're not going to go for rationing of health care. I'm not for it. I don't want it for me, I don't want it for my family nor does anybody else," Feingold said. "So I guarantee you if there is rationing here, as people define it, that has to be removed."

Feingold said until there is a final proposal, it's not clear how to pay for the reforms. But he said part of the answer may be to have larger businesses play a role by "either participating in a new system or paying what I would hope would be a more reasonable or modest amount in order to not participate in the system."

Listen to the conference call here.


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