The election of Republican Scott Brown to senator in Massachusetts has put a question mark around the fate of legislation that would overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, according to the two major long-term care associations.
“Obviously, the election of Scott Brown brings more questions to the table as to how the administration and Democratic leadership will pursue healthcare reform,” said Susan Feeney, spokeswoman for the American Healthcare Association.
Commented Larry Minnix, president and CEO of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging: “I think it puts healthcare reform in a very tight place. There are major things in the bills that could help a lot and, in that respect, it certainly makes things difficult because we thought we were close to a bill. It’s disappointing, but the needs and objectives are still the same. There’s hope that something will get done.”
Brown beat Democrat Martha Coakley in a special election for the seat formerly occupied by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. His win eliminates the Democrats’ 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. It also gives Republicans more leverage to demand concessions during negotiations. Brown has pledged to vote against the healthcare reform bill in its current form. Instead, he favors strengthening the existing private market system, according to his campaign Web site.
Minnix hopes that the House will pass the Senate version and then make changes. That is the most expeditious way to pass a bill, he said.