Kratovil: "No" on Health Care
Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil of Maryland, one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the House, confirms that he will be a "No" vote in the Sunday night showdown over health care.
“While the legislation now under consideration before the House has made some improvements over [the original House health care] bill, a number of the concerns I have raised throughout this debate have still not been addressed, which is why I will be voting “No,” he said.
The freshman from the Eastern Shore represents a conservative district that strongly favored Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Democratic strategists and fellow lawmakers have included him in the small group of House Democrats whose districts are so opposed to the legislation that they would be wise to vote against it if they want to get re-elected this fall.
Kratovil is campaigning for re-election by pointing to his voting record in his first term, which shows him closer to the political center and less tied to his party's leadership than other Maryland congressmen.
In November, Kratovil voted against a more liberal version of the health care overhaul when it cleared the House by a five-vote margin. He initially became the target of speculation that his vote might be available to Democratic leaders on the final vote, if they needed it to pass the measure into law.
But after briefly indicating that he wanted to see what the final version looked like before stating his position, he quickly closed the door in the face of new Republican attacks orchestrated by the GOP"s House campaign committee, which has targeted him for defeat in 2010.
A statement, released by Kratovil's office late Saturday night, recapped his earlier statements on the legislation and confirmed his opposition to the measure.
He said the Democratic plan did too little to control costs and threatened to increase the budget deficit. He also questioned whether the federal mandate that will require everyone to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, would pose an excessive burden on middle-class families (this criticism has also been expressed by supporters of a provision that the plan does not include: a public option).
Kratovil's complete statement is below:
“Since the debate over health care reform began last year, I have tried to work constructively with colleagues in Washington to craft a bill that could expand coverage and reduce health care costs while preserving consumer choice and putting our nation on a more stable long-term fiscal footing. In November, I voted against a bill that I believed fell short of these goals, citing the overall cost, the deficit impact, and the negative impact that the bill’s employer mandates could have on job creation.
“While the legislation now under consideration before the House has made some improvements over that bill, a number of the concerns I have raised throughout this debate have still not been addressed, which is why I will be voting “No”. The bill’s overall price tag of $1.07 trillion is above the target set by Democratic leadership earlier in the debate, even after cutting the $208 billion “doctor fix” out from previous versions of reform legislation. When this additional cost is added to this bill, the Congressional Budget Office has stated that the package would increase deficit by $59 billion in the next 10 years. I am also concerned about the impact this bill will have on the cost of coverage for middle class families in the non-group market, as well as the impact that the employer mandate would have on employment at a time when job creation must be our top priority. And while some of the most egregious backroom deals in the Senate bill would be ended by the reconciliation package, other provisions benefitting individual states at the expense of Maryland taxpayers would continue.
“I recognize that health care reform is an urgent priority, and would strongly support efforts to reform our health care system by ending the practice of rescission, extending coverage for children on a parents’ plan up to 26 years old, creating a federal exchange to facilitate more transparent competition, closing the Part D “Donut Hole”, and encouraging competition across state lines. However, I believe that the package currently before the House does not represent a fiscally sustainable approach to reform. This is too important of an issue not to get right".
-Rep. Frank Kratovil