DENVER - As U.S. senators debate a second health-care bill today, Democrats are under pressure from the left and the
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., plans to vote for the bill and fend off any attempts to change it. That has dismayed
liberal activists and brought criticism from his primary challenger, Andrew Romanoff.
Liberal talk show host David Sirota delivered 35,000 petitions to Bennet's Denver office Wednesday to demand a public
option," a government-run insurance plan available to some people if they couldn't get coverage on the private
Romanoff has collected more than 2,000 signatures for his own, separate petition for a public option on his Web site.
He plans to deliver them to Bennet sometime this week.
Senate Democrats want to prevent any changes to the bill, because even the slightest change would mean the bill would
have to go back to the House for another potentially wrenching vote.
This bill needs to pass. A 'no' on the amendment process is a 'yes' on health-care reform," said Bennet spokesman
Bennet gained national attention last month when he drafted a letter to Senate Democratic leaders and urged that the
public option be resurrected. But that was before the final negotiations that led to Sunday's passage of the main
Romanoff wants to hold Bennet's feet to the fire on his wimping out on the public option," said Romanoff spokesman
The public option should at least get an up-or-down vote in the Senate, Toda said.
Amodeo urged critics to focus on what Democrats already have won.
This was an uphill battle. It was never a given," he said. But ultimately, we passed a bill that's going to extend
coverage to 840,000 Coloradans. ... We can't lose sight of the historic importance of this bill."
Democrat-aligned groups are divided on the strategy in the wake of their big victory Sunday. A group of Colorado unions
and advocacy groups, led by ProgressNow, delivered its own letter to Bennet's office while Sirota was there Wednesday,urging the senator to hold firm and make no changes on the second bill.
Sirota left when the ProgressNow crew arrived, saying, I don't want to interrupt the paid big groups that have been
The second bill was part of a deal between House and Senate Democrats, which cleared the way for last Sunday's vote on
the main bill. The bill now in the Senate makes several changes to the health-reform bill that President Barack Obama
signed into law Tuesday. Changes include:
b More generous subsidies to people who cannot afford insurance.
b Lower tax penalties for not buying insurance.
b Higher penalties for businesses that are required to cover employees but do not do it. However, businesses with fewer
than 30 employees would get an exemption.
b Repeal of the Cornhusker kickback" to Nebraska and increases in Medicaid payments to all states.
b Faster adoption of the requirement for insurance companies to let parents keep children on their policies until age
b Taxes on fewer high-cost Cadillac" health-care plans, but higher taxes on dividends, interest and capital gains.
Meanwhile, Republican candidates have ramped up their criticism of the bill Obama signed Tuesday. Senate candidates
Jane Norton and Ken Buck both have said they would vote to repeal it if elected. Norton called it the most significant
move toward the failed policies of socialism America has seen in more than six decades."
State Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa. Tipton sent out two
fundraising e-mails to supporters since Sunday's passage of the main health bill.
A little piece of America died with the passage of this bill," Tipton said in an e-mail to supporters.
On Tuesday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin put Salazar on her target list of 20 Democrats who voted for the health-care
bill. She promised help to Republicans running against the 20 Democrats, who also included Betsy Markey from Colorado's
Her fundraising committee, SarahPAC, had more than $1 million in the bank at the end of 2009, although it had donated
less than $50,000 to Republican candidates during the last quarter of 2009.