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home : local news : local news July 21, 2017

3/9/2010 8:00:00 AM
Political roundup
Donnelly: Pass health bill in pieces
Editor, The Sentinel

Joe Donnelly would prefer voting on health care reform one piece at a time.

Donnelly, the Granger Democrat who represents Fulton County in the U.S. Congress, points to the demise of an insurance industry anti-trust exemption. It was recently flushed by a 409-16 vote. "That's in the big (Senate health care reform) bill," he said. "But being part of the big bill, it's hard to get things done. When they stand alone, you can actually get things accomplished," Donnelly said.

Another element of health reform that Donnelly would like to see voted on individually rather than as part of a big package has to do with pre-existing conditions. He doesn't think that insurance firms should be allowed to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. He also thinks health insurance should be portable - follow an employee when he or she changes jobs.

President Barack Obama wants Congress to vote yes or no on a comprehensive reform measure from the Senate. Donnelly likes a lot about the bill, but its language on abortion is a "fatal flaw." For him, it is a deal breaker. "I would not vote for it," he said. He figures there will be a vote within a month or so. The abortion language is unpopular with "a significant" number of congressmen. It has the potential to kill the bill, he said.

Donnelly says that health reform is needed, and needed soon. The cost of Medicare is an "unsustainable cost burden" that will "overwhelm" the budget if nothing is done, he said. But, he will not vote for the measure approved in the Senate because of that abortion language.

Here, courtesy of Donnelly staffer Elizabeth Shappell, is a list of the abortion-related measures in the Senate health care bill to which Donnelly objects:

1. Contrary to the language governing existing programs such as SCHIP and Medicaid, under the Senate bill the federal government will subsidize insurance policies that cover elective abortion.

2. Under the new Office of Personnel Management program all but one plan could pay for abortion. Currently, OPM administers the Federal Employee Health Insurance Program under which abortion funding is prohibited.

3. Authorities granted to federal officials could be used to mandate abortion coverage.

4. The accounting mechanisms in the Senate bill provide the authority to force many Americans to pay directly into an abortion fund.

5. The Federal Indian health program is reauthorized without the Vitter amendment against funding for elective abortion.

6. The "Hyde-Weldon" conscience protection for health care workers is omitted from the Senate bill.

7. Federal funds can pay for elective abortions at Community Health Centers.

8. High-risk insurance pool funds may be used to pay for abortion.

A complete video webcast of Donnelly's interview in The Sentinel newsroom appears on There are three daily installments, starting today. To view it, click on Sentinel videos.

Here are some highlights:

• Donnelly expects the National Rifle Association to endorse him once more. He does not own a gun.

• The recession hit Indiana's 2nd Congressional District hard. Howard County's jobless rate was as high as 19 percent, he said. Today it is about 12.5 percent. In Elkhart County, the unemployment rate reached 18.9 percent. It is now, 14.4 percent. Fulton County's rate in December 2009: 12.2 percent.

• The district has been allocated $340 million in federal stimulus funds, Donnelly said. Of that, something on the order of 65 percent to 70 percent has yet to be spent.

• Donnelly would define a victory in Afghanistan as a stable government free of terror attacks and no safe haven for al-Qaida. "We're making significant progress right now," said the congressman. Next stop: Kandahar.

• The cost of our military effort in Afghanistan and Iraq exceeds $10 billion a month.

• Voting now underway in Iraq shows that "We have achieved stability in Iraq," Donnelly said. "Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqis." He stopped short of saying the U.S. has achieved a victory in Iraq.

• He expects farm subsidies to decline.

• If it were up to him, the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal would be sealed to prevent entry by Asian carp, an invasive species with the potential to out-compete many popular game fish in the Great Lakes. The Obama administration has opted to keep the canal open and use other means to stymie the carp.

• Donnelly believes that America should drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We can do so in a safe and environmentally responsible fashion, he said.

• His campaign for re-election will cost something like $1 million.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2012
Article comment by: Scott Heckert

To those who support Mr.Donnelly,

My hope is that he is not re-elected. The entitlement epidemic has gone way too far. The person that found it crazy that Christians want to stand in the way of healthcare for millions because of the abortion issue,is nonsense.

Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Article comment by: Gloria Banks

The way I look at it your just one more I won't have to vote for, your not for us, we're not for you!!

Thanksfor nothing joe !!

Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010
Article comment by: Sara Tarnow

Let's vote to get this health care reform initiated finally! I would like it if the bill included a public option, but it is a huge step forward for America. This bill isn't perfect. It will be expanded on and built on over time, just like Social Security. If we ever hope to move toward a better system in the future, this bill must be passed. It covers the uninsured and eliminates some of the injustices that the insurance companies commit to save a few bucks. What REALLY upsets me is the fact some progressives are voting against it because it doesn't go far enough. HELLO. It could extend coverage to 32 million Americans! A little at a time, you can't force it all in at once! Don't deny coverage to millions of Americans because you think the abortion language was watered down!

It has become painfully obvious that Republicans have nothing in mind besides getting back in power. They feast on ignorance and capitalize on it. Once the American people are told what is actually in this bill, they are overwhelmingly for it. Unfortunately, the GOP doesn't want them to know what is in the bill. They spread lies like "death panels" and "pulling the plug on grandma" in order to convince those that don't follow politics that this bill is something out of Soviet Russia. America is better off with this bill, but the GOP doesn't care. They just want to win seats in Congress in 2010 and the White House in 2012.

I'm glad that the Democrats finally seem to be realizing this and moving forward without the help of the obstructionist party.

Representative Donnelly, VOTE YES! We need to get health care reform started now!

Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2010
Article comment by: ron powell

This is complete nonsense. Either Donnelly hasn't read the bill or he needs someone to translate it for him. NO federal $ can be used for abortions. There is only an option for people who go into the exchanges to purchase WITH THEIR OWN $ abortion coverage. As long as abortion is legal in this country, it is hardly "pro-life" to oppose reform and support the status quo when tens of thousands of Americans die every year because they have no insurance or their insurance company has kicked them off for whatever reason. I hope Donnelly changes his min. I've always like him, but this is beyond the pale.

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Article comment by: Dave O'Brien

Those that are self-employed need serious health care reform. The recent rate hikes by WellPoint / Anthem illustrate the need perfectly as group plans were increased only 10-15% while those purchasing health insurance individually are subject to 30-59% increases. Why? Because the insurance companies can, since individuals have no leverage and can't negotiate as a large group.

Also, I don't understand those that base their entire decision on one point - - suce as abortion. I also don't understand how Christian people can look themselves in the mirror knowing they are against helping millions of people because of one point which is already legal in the U.S.

Mr. Donnelly, please do whatever it takes to get serious and deep change to the present healthcare system accomplished. It seems to me that no politicians are addressing the real problem, which is out of control inflation in healthcare costs. I'm guessing this is because nearly all of Congress has been bought and paid for by corporate America, and all corporations involved in healthcare have spent / lobbied themselves into a position where nobody in congress will fight them.

Drastic change is needed. Hopefully those in congress will put the people ahead of politics.

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