REDMOND, OR -- Senators are back in Washington, following the Independence Day break; many spent the past week talking with constituents about the Republican healthcare plan. On Friday, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) held meetings in Bend and Redmond, and the GOP bill was the most talked about topic.
Some at Friday’s meeting at Bend Transitional Care were confused about what is and isn’t included in the plan and how it differs from the House version. One man asked Wyden, "Who do we trust to tell us the truth, as far as what is available? Last I heard was that Australia had a really good health plan. Whether it could work here or it’s something that we could consider, I don’t know." The Oregon Democrat answered, "You’re so right; this is very hard to follow. And, a lot of people just hear in the headlines ‘somebody attacking somebody else.’"
Friday afternoon, he held a Redmond Town Hall, where a number of questions centered around whether the two parties could work together. Senator Wyden told the crowd what he says he's told Republicans, "If we set this partisan process down, we will go to work with you and fix what needs to be fixed. And there are two things we ought to do right away. The first is: We need to stabilize the private insurance market. We got all of these plans and carriers; they Can't figure out from one day to the next what's coming. And, the private sector needs some certainty and predictability."
Former Redmond City Councilor Irv Nygren asked, "How could Congressional Democrats get involved in the current healthcare debate so that a bipartisan plan could go forward to benefit the American people?" Wyden reiterated, "I think that in at least three areas that I've mentioned: One, stabilizing the private insurance market; two, clamping down on prescription drugs; and three, chronic illness where we update the Medicare guarantee. Those would all be naturals." Wyden expressed optimism that a compromise might be possible, blaming past bipartisan failures on Republicans digging in their heels. "I do think, based on what I'm hearing right now, the Republicans are getting such a dust up at home, my hope is that they're going to come back and want to work together. When I was walking in, the staff just told me about a call from a very senior, influential Republican who wanted to work with me on an important tax bill, so I think the ice is starting to break here a little bit among some of the Senators." He expects it'll be at least another week before the GOP healthcare plan comes up for a vote in the full Senate; but, some speculated Monday that the plan is dead.
At Friday's meetings, Senator Wyden also answered questions about the President, the environment and a rumored sale of the Bonneville Power Administration.