When Republican Scott Brown won the Massachusetts Senate race in Tuesday’s special election, the future of President Barack Obama’s health care reform quickly came into question.
The Democrat-led Senate passed one version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on December 24. It was expected to be signed into law as early as next month.
The legislation would ban insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
It would also make health insurance mandatory for nearly everyone in the U.S., and provide subsidies for those who can’t afford it.
Brown’s victory over Martha Coakley was a big blow to Democrats who saw the late Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Senator for 46 years, as a champion for health care reform up until his death last August.
Democrats still exercise majority control over both the House and Senate, but the upset has forced both sides to re-evaluate the current state of health care reform.
Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said, “Congress should…shelve the health care legislation under consideration and instead pursue reforms that actually decrease costs without growing government and sacrificing the quality of care. Senator-Elect Brown should be seated as soon as possible, and the Senate should take no action on health care until that time.”
Ann Marie Lang, a Huntsville Democrat, also weighed in on the issue.
“The House and Senate can’t agree on a final bill,” said Lang. “There will be more negotiations, but Obama will not give up on health care reform because he sees it as the capstone of his presidency. We do need to pass health care reform so everyone can be afforded health care, and our current health care system is bankrupting our nation.”
Representative Barney Frank, D-Mass., shared his views on a radio interview Wednesday.
“I think the measure that would have passed,” said Frank, “that is, some compromise between the House and Senate bill, which I would have voted for, although there were some aspects of both bills I would have liked to see change. I think that’s dead.”
Brown has indicated he wants to work with Democrats, saying “We’re past campaign mode: I think it’s important for everyone to get some form of healthcare.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged to seat Brown immediately, ensuring that the nation’s newest Senator will be able to weigh in on this emotionally- and politically-charged issue.
For a four-minute video on health care reform from President Obama, click here.