Archive for September, 2009
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday rejected two amendments to include a government-run public health insurance option in the only compromise health care bill so far. It’s one of the many road blocks the plan has faced and the White House is trying to get some Republicans on board.
Senator Susan Collins of Maine is one of those Republicans whose support is being sought by the White House. She spoke to John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Wednesday. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.
John Roberts: We were talking off camera. You said you don’t recall seeing times like these. There is so much going on.
Susan Collins: There is. I can’t remember another time when there were more important issues on the table. You’ve got the two wars, a major decision coming up in Afghanistan, the health care debate, a faltering economy, the need for financial reform, environmental legislation, the cap-and-trade bill. It’s just an enormous array of issues, all of which are extremely important.
Roberts: This morning let’s take a narrow slice of all of that and talk about health care reform. Are you going to be able to vote for health care reform, do you think?
Collins: John, I want to vote for a health care bill but so far I haven’t seen one that accomplishes what I think needs to be done. And that is to really focus on the cost of health care. It’s the cost of health care that’s the biggest barrier to the uninsured and causes such a struggle for middle income families and small businesses.
Roberts: So you say cost is the central concern that you have. Proponents of this public option have said that’s one really good way to lower costs. You don’t like the public option, you don’t like this idea that your fellow senator, Olympia Snowe, is proposing about a trigger to a public option. So what do you do?
Collins: There is so much that we could do. For example, we could allow small businesses to band together to boost their purchasing power. We could pass medical liability reform. That would have a direct impact on cost. We could revamp the Medicare reimbursement system so that it focuses on quality rather than quantity. That would help reduce unnecessary tests. We could provide tax credits for small businesses so they could help insure their employees. There is a lot that unites us and I think that’s what our focus should be.
Roberts: Now, if you were to adopt all of the measures that you have just outlined there, how much do you think it would reduce in America the number of people who are currently uninsured?
Collins: Well, 82% of the uninsured are in families where someone works. They either work themselves or they work for small businesses that can’t afford to provide health insurance, or they are self employed. So that’s where I would start. And from my conversations with many small business men and women, I’m convinced that if we gave them a generous tax credit they would provide health insurance for their employees. That would substantially reduce the number of uninsured Americans.
A vaccine to prevent HIV infection, the virus that leads to AIDS, has shown modest results for the first time, researchers have found, raising hopes that a disease that kills millions every year may someday be beaten.
In what is being called the world’s largest HIV vaccine trial ever — involving more than 16,000 participants in Thailand — researchers found that people who received a series of inoculations of a prime vaccine and booster vaccine were 31 percent less likely to get HIV, compared with those on a placebo.
“Before this study, it was thought vaccine for HIV is not possible,” Colonel Jerome Kim, who is the HIV vaccines product manager for the U.S. Army, told CNN.
HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, which is the virus that causes AIDS — acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Kim emphasized that the level of effectiveness of the latest vaccine was modest, but given the failures of previous HIV vaccine trials, “yesterday we would have thought an HIV vaccine wasn’t possible.”
Leaders representing 85 percent of the world’s economic output were gathering Thursday in a U.S. city that has reinvented itself, hoping to bolster the global economy.
The Group of 20 will meet for two days to focus on the worldwide financial crisis, and plot how to avoid a repeat in the future.
The White House is using the economic summit to showcase Pittsburgh — a city that President Barack Obama says has exhibited an innovative 21st-century recovery after a well-publicized downfall following the shuttering of much of the city’s steel industry.
Pittsburgh “has transformed itself from the city of steel to a center for high-tech innovation — including green technology, education and training, and research and development,” the president said.
Most of the world leaders have come from New York, where they attended the start of the U.N. General Assembly. The G-20 gathering is Obama’s first time hosting a major international summit.
“As the leaders of the world’s largest economies, we have a responsibility to work together on behalf of sustained growth, while putting in place the rules of the road that can prevent this kind of crisis from happening again,” the president said in a statement ahead of the gathering.
The tightening of global financial regulations is expected to top the summit’s agenda and comes as some major economies are beginning to recover. Germany, France and Japan have announced that they have emerged from recession, prompting hopes that the worst of the financial crisis may have passed.