In The Elevator With Boehner: What Do You Say About Health Care?

Partner content from Kaiser Health News

Republican Leader John Boehner is surrounde by reporters.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is surrounded by reporters after leaving a Washington news conference on November 3, 2010. Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images North America hide caption

itoggle caption Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images North America

You're a health care maven — lobbyist, legislator, whatever— and you run into House Speaker-in-Waiting John Boehner, an ardent foe of the new health care law in a Capitol Hill elevator.

Quick, what do you do? Egg him on in trying to repeal the law, urge him to reverse course, or suggest he focus on something else?

Kaiser Health News put the question to three dozen people across the country. Some of the responses were snarky — and included inevitable cracks about Boehner’s smoking and perpetual tan — but most were serious.

Some people urged him to keep his hands off the newly enacted health law; others wanted him to go after it full bore. Even some conservatives urged him to be selective in targeting provisions of the law. Others advised him to focus on the big fiscal picture, including entitlements like Medicare.

Here are some edited responses:    

Rose Ann DeMoro
Executive director, California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

If you're so committed to states' innovation, enable them to do real health care reform by allowing state single-payer. Or, feel free to exit between floors.

Henry Stern
Insurance broker near Dayton, Ohio, who writes for the popular InsureBlog.

As a fellow Buckeye, my question for you, sir, is this: Did you really mean what you said about rolling back the toxic Democrat agenda, do you get what the Tea Party movement is really about, and if so, what will be your very first agenda item to defund and declaw ObamaCare?

Ethan Rome
Executive director, Health Care for America Now.

I didn’t agree with you when you shouted “Hell, no!” on the House floor during the health care debate. But given the outcome of the elections, that kind of rhetoric will be useful now. When the Tea Party types want to pursue a health care repeal that everyone knows is going nowhere, you should tell them, “Hell, no!” When your GOP comrades want to play politics by defunding the health care law and holding up its implementation, tell them, “Hell, no!” When the insurance companies want to jack up our premiums at will, tell them, “Hell, no!” — and then pass a strong rate-review bill. And when people razz you about smoking or tanning, do whatever the hell you want—you're only going to have this job for two years.

Janet Trautwein
CEO, National Association of Health Underwriters.

You need to look at what could be done to change the law to make it more workable and more business- friendly so employers can continue to provide coverage to employees as they do today. There is not a single thing in the law that makes the cost of coverage more affordable and let’s look at things to fix that.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)

Outgoing chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Don’t be too quick to think that staying where we are, going back to where we are is a good idea. People are going to start recognizing this is a bill with a lot of good things in it and they’re not going to want any part of it repealed. Oh, I guess this is my floor. See you later, John!

Kim Ross
Health policy consultant at Kimble Public Affairs in Austin, Texas.

Your first act in office should be to quit smoking and don't do anything drastic on health care while you are in withdrawal… Let there be as much community-based experimentation as possible, which the federal law contemplates. Shut off what doesn't work, and use your considerable influence to support what does.

James Dickson
Administrator and CEO, Copper Queen Community Hospital, Bisbee, Ariz.

Delay implementation of the health care reform act. Delay it, don't get rid of it. Implementing reform now will decimate the health care system in Arizona because of Medicare and Medicaid funding cuts.

Alan Murray
Deputy managing editor and executive editor, online, The Wall Street Journal.

The message from the Tea Party, and from the swelling army of independent voters in your state and elsewhere, is loud and clear – government spending has to be brought under control. To do that, Congress must make some tough decisions about Medicare, which is the biggest and most out-of-control part of the budget. And by definition, tough decisions about Medicare will require real bipartisan cooperation. Neither party is going to take the tough medicine alone, because the political risks are too high.  Leaders of both parties will have to jump off the bridge together.

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