November 10, 2009 / Brooklyn news / Politics / Bay Ridge / McMahon on Line 1

Rep. Mike says ‘no’ to Obama on health care

The Brooklyn Paper
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Freshman Rep. Mike McMahon (D–Bay Ridge) was one of only two Democrats in the state to vote against the House health care reform bill. In doing so, McMahon joined 22 Southern Dems and scores of Republicans. But McMahon says his “no” vote doesn’t mean he’s against health care reform — just this health care reform. Clearly, it was time for another installment of “McMahon on Line 1.”

Brooklyn Paper: So, it’s you, an upstate conservative, a bunch of Southern yahoos and most of the Republican Party on this. Is that really the company you want to be keeping on health care reform?

Mike McMahon: For me, this vote came down to what is best for the people who sent me to Washington. I promised to be independent, and, in my opinion, this bill would be detrimental to the hospitals in my district. Each one would lose $25 million in disproportionate share hospital funding.

BP: Come on. Now you’re just making things up. What’s that?

MM: It’s the rate at which they’re compensated for uninsured and undocumented patients. Hospitals in my district would really suffer because they have high numbers of such patients.

BP: But so would hospitals in the other congressional districts in Brooklyn — yet all those members of Congress voted for the bill.

MM: You’d have to ask them why.

BP: We have. They say they support reform.

MM: So do I. But this bill would also hurt seniors, who would lose critical Medicare benefits. And small businesses, which are the main economic engines in my district, would see tax increases. And this bill has no clamp on increasing premiums. Insurance companies would drive up premiums to cover the cost of covering more people.

BP: That’s not in the bill. That’s just your assumption.

MM: It is my expectation, yes. We’re still waiting for a report by the Congressional Budget Office, but most experts feel that because of the increase in coverage, the increase in mandates and the lack of any cost controls, the insurance companies would raise rates.

BP: You mentioned seniors. Why does this bill hurt them?

MM: Because they would lose their Medicare Advantage, which 35–40 percent of the seniors in my district use.

BP: But high numbers of seniors in other districts use that, too, yet their congressmen voted for the bill.

MM: Again, you’d have to ask those members.

BP: Where are you on the public option now? You’ve been iffy on it.

MM: I’m not opposed to the public option, but it’s not the way to cut costs. Remember: you can’t take the public option if your employer covers you currently. So how does an option offered to 10 million people cut down costs for everyone else? You could drive down costs with an independent board that could set rates. That’s in one of the Senate bills, but not the House bill.

BP: OK, so what does Mike McMahon want?

MM: We need to set the right inflection point for health care. The House bill would send it in the wrong direction. It would increase costs without controls over the health care system. And it would be a heavy pressure on the national debt. We need to expand coverage, but we need to control costs to the government. In the House bill, for example, there’s no bundling [a payment system that reimburses hospitals for the entire treatment, not one service at a time]. There’s no incentive to get off the fee-for-service system. What you want is performance-based payments, outcome-based payments.

BP: So Mike McMahon wants reform, even though he voted against the House bill.

MM: Yes, but the current bill would not do it.

BP: Man, you must have been under a lot of pressure to vote with the president?

MM: He called me. And the vice president called me.

BP: Biden, whatever. But what’s it like to get that call from the president? Is it really, “Congressman, hold on one second for the president” like in the movies?

MM: Yes, it is. And it’s a bit unnerving. But we had a very serious talk about the bill. I told him that my decision was easy because the bill is not good for the people who sent me to represent them. And at the end, he said, “Mike, I can see that you’ve really thought this through, and I respect that.”

BP: You said no to a Democratic president on the central pillar of his agenda.

MM: Well, you know the Chinese proverb: May we live in interesting times.

BP: Proverb? It’s a curse, congressman!

MM: Now you tell me.

Updated 5:15 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Sick and tired from Bay Ridge says:
And why didn't we support Steve Harrison for this seat?
Nov. 10, 2009, 11:01 pm
Haley from BR says:
"Mike McMahon: For me, this vote came down to what is best for the people who sent me to Washington. I promised to be independent, and, in my opinon, this bill would be detrimental to the hospitals in my district. "
Gimme a BREAK.
Nov. 11, 2009, 3:42 am
Dave from Bensonhurst says:
I live in his district and I think hes doing a good job being an independent voice not just in lock step w his party. And I am a loyal democrat. The bill passed without is vote. Hes a freshmen coming from a district that elected idiots like Vito for 28 years before Mike. Mike McMahon isnt Dennis Kucinich (who also voted NO btw). Dennis Kucinich could never get elected in this district. Someone commented about Steve Harrison--the reason we didnt elect Steve Harrison was because Harrison could never win a general in this district. At the end of the day mr McMahon still casts his vote for a Democratic Speaker and lets not forget that.

And on the bill--- its not perfect and there are major flaws but thats what comes w dealing w something as comprehensive as healthcare reform. Lets see what the senate does and then it comes back to both houses for a final vote.
Nov. 11, 2009, 11:02 am
sid from Boerum Hill says:
medicare advantage is a boon doogle for the insurance companies. They are paid MORE than medicare pays and so they can provide extra benefits. You know this is one of the worst republican ideas that was fostered on Medicare and it increases the cost of medicare significantly. You know for those who hate government run programs they sure love medicare- a government run program.

He probably supports allowing people to buy insurance over state lines which means you will get the cheapest program in the state that does nothing to protect consumers....and is an example of states right in reverse(the Feds telling the states it can't protect its own citizens). I hope the American public is smarter than this....but I fear not.
Nov. 11, 2009, 12:07 pm
Joe from Boerum Hill says:
B.P. is B.S. Just more toe-the-line politcal idealogues on the Democratic Party bandwagon. The editorial staff and heh, "reporters", can't even put up a hackneyed facade of journalistic impartiality.

You're nothing more than drones lacking lacking the aptitude for independent thought and just parrot the PC and agenda-driven mantra of those Socialists-in-everything-but-name, who are wasting time and taking up space in D.C. It must irk the hell out of you when somebody from your own ranks possesses the integrity and commitment to represent the best interests of his constituency, regardless of political affiliation, and voices his dissention.

People who are really concerned about where the politicians of Pelosi and Reid's ilk are leading our nation should heed the words of Norman Thomas:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

Evidently, the staff of this paper have bought into the scam hook, line and sinker.
Nov. 12, 2009, 12:45 am
Michael from bay ridge says:
What a selfish little man, he can count on not ever getting my vote.
Nov. 12, 2009, 7:07 am
joe from staten island says:
Let's face it. If he voted yes to the bill, he's going to lose the Staten Island voter. At least this way he has a chance to stay a congressman against the Republican challenger that will be running against him in 2010.
Nov. 12, 2009, 5:33 pm
Doug Biviano from Brooklyn Heights says:
Like McMahon, I would have voted 'NO' if I was in Congress, but where we differ is that I believe the inflection point he seeks is single-payer Medicare for All (HR 676).

The so called 'landmark' bill that passed the House last week would have been best shredded. According to upstate Congressman Eric Massa, "At the highest level, this bill will enshrine in law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry, period. There's really no other way to look at it. I believe the private health insurance industry is part of the problem." says he ll vote against health care bill

Beating back the health insurance lobby's grip on Washington and supporting single payer need not be a conservative vs liberal matter. With a little leadership, even in McMahon's district, it can easily be demonstrated that the biggest issues with our health care system -- Access and Cost -- are best addressed by Medicare for All.

For McMahon's constituents, Medicare for All keeps doctors and providers private (they would not be employees of the government or get in between them like insurance companies do), provides the greatest choice in "network" (every doctor and hospital in America), and provides quality access for all at the lowest possible cost because it removes the incredibly wasteful middlemen (health insurance companies) that deny and markup services for profit and waste to the tune of $500 billion, yet provide no innovation whatsoever. Ultimately, Medicare for All simply expands to everyone what our senior citizens already have and love by reallocating the waste in the current system.

In his 2004 presidential bid, Senator John Kerry proudly touted in his health care plan, "In my plan...'nearly all' children will be covered!" His website pointed out that 99% of children in the U.S. would be covered. It sounded impressive until you thought about it for a second and the rhetorical house of cards crumbled into something really pathetic. A visit to the website revealed that with 60 million children in the U.S. that meant that 600,000 children would fall through the cracks, uncovered.

I asked myself why do I get up, work and pay taxes if we cannot as a nation even provide health care to all of our children? This seems so fundamental to any society. I also thought, what depths of shamelessness does it take for a person to run for presidential candidate to sell such rubbish with a straight face?

Unfortunately, as we see with the passage of this 'landmark' bill and children still uncovered out of shear confusion of the complexity of it all, with donut holes remaining despite expansion of SCHIP, we have only moved incrementally beyond this lack of leadership and monumental cowardice.
Nov. 15, 2009, 11:30 pm
IneZ from Sunset Park says:
@Doug Biviano -
Very interesting points, but stop talking to yourself, it's odd. "I asked mysel why do I get up, work...."
It's strange and melodramatic. And your comment is way too long.
Nov. 17, 2009, 4:25 am

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