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Wayne Woodlief -- Today's Herald -- Gets It Right

Wayne Woodlief -- Today's Herald -- Gets It Right

August 5, 2005

Today's Herald has a column by Wayne Woodlief debunking the assertion in last Saturday's Boston Globe that Democrats in the Legislature will kill health reform to avoid giving Gov. Romney a political win he can use in his upcoming presidential run. Wayne, one of the town's smartest and most decent reporters, gets it just right. The Legislature is in no mood to do Gov. Romney any favors. And they will not allow that to stand in the way of doing the best job they can on health care reform. Here are some quotes from today's column:

Whew! I didn't think Democrats could be that dumb. Just file under N for nonsense those reports in that other newspaper that some unnamed malcontents in the majority party on Beacon Hill want to put the brakes on vital health care legislation – just to deny Gov. Mitt Romney a bragging point for his likely presidential campaign.

It's not gonna happen. Take it from Senate President Robert Travaglini, House Speaker Sal DiMasi, Democratic state chairman Philip W. Johnston and Sen. Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge), Senate chairman of the Health Care Finance Committee. And they said it on the record.

The truth is the governor is increasingly deemed irrelevant on Beacon Hill. The Legislature just finished overriding a slew of his vetoes. And though the Democratic leadership can't say it outright (they have to work some with the guy), whether and precisely when he announces for president, not re-election, does not matter a whit. ...

Travaglini said, ``Access to affordable health care remains one of our most pressing issues, probably even more so today, since we continue to see double-digit increases in insurance premiums.'' Stall? Not on Trav's watch. He vowed to pursue his goals of covering half of the 532,000 uninsured Bay Staters and cutting costs for consumers, employers and taxpapers by 2006.

And DiMasi has termed health care ``the premier issue of our time.'' His spokeswoman Kim Haberlin said: ``He wants this addressed in an honest, timely way, and we have a historic opportunity,'' since Romney, Travaglini and DiMasi are all moving toward the same goal – albeit with differences in means.

Moore promised all deliberate speed on a reform bill being steered through the Health Care Finance Committee he co-chairs. ``We've done all our hearings and we hope to get a bill released from our committee early in September, maybe sometime around Labor Day,'' Moore said. It would take some from the Senate bill, some from the House's ideas and those of health reform advocates and, yes, even some of the governor's proposals. But not so much that he could take it on the presidential trail, Moore forecast.

And here's a news flash for the governor: His proposal that individuals must buy health insurance ``probably won't fly,'' said Moore, adding that Romney's plan for a new state agency to create a purchasing pool intended to help employers and employees lower their insurance costs is likely to be jettisoned, too. ``I think we can do it without creating a new state agency and adding more bureaucrats,'' said Moore. Hey, who's the conservative here? ...

Most of the other Democrats can chew and walk at the same time. They know how to claim credit, especially when they control the legislative process. They're smart enough to put people in need first and not shoot themselves by sitting on a vital reform bill. And their leadership is wise to be statesmen now and save the credit games for later.