Marion Berry on health | Arkansas Blog

Marion Berry on health

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I chatted with U.S. Rep. Marion Berry this morning. The tide of opinion (Catholic nuns and hospitals, etc.) that Senate health bill language on abortion doesn’t liberalize government policy hasn’t swayed Berry.

 

“If they don’t take the [anti-abortion] Stupak language, I cannot imagine being able to vote for the bill,” he still says

 

But Berry dropped a hint or two that an up-down vote on the legislation as now written isn’t the only way this week’s drama will play out. And he called himself still undecided.

 

I told him I couldn't believe that a congressman from the Delta would stand in the way of historic, if imperfect, health legislation on account of ambiguous wording that most experts insist won’t facilitate abortion. He said he didn't go to Washington to follow the lead of others.

 

He indicated that changes could be coming in the House that could be achieved through parliamentary means without another Senate vote.

 

“I have not made up my mind,” he said, pending final negotiations. This is, at least, an improvement over U.S. Rep. Mike Ross who’s declared Senate legislation a dead letter. With Ross, Ross' political career comes first -- over the sick, the poor, whoever.

 

Berry is a happy warrior. “I’m happy to fade whatever imaginary positions I’m burdened with,” responding to my suggestion that he could be a deciding vote on denial of expanded health coverage to the Delta poor.

 

Berry said many are working feverishly behind the scenes. “They are working literally day and night to come to an agreement where everybody is more comfortable that things are going to be better after it’s over than things are now.” This, he noted, is in contrast to Republicans, who simply want to defeat the legislation.

 

Is he predicting passage of health legislation? “I wouldn’t bet the ranch either way.”

 

He added, “When this is over, the dust is settled and the blood is washed away, I’ll be able to tell you some things you don’t know.” For now,  however, he won't be talking about those smoke-filled (metaphorically speaking) rooms.

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