Did Healthcare Reform Die with Ted Kennedy?

Several news articles this morning attempt to delve into the impact that Senator Edward Kennedy’s death will have on healthcare reform and what he called “the cause of my life,” providing affordable healthcare coverage to all Americans.

The question being asked is will Ted Kennedy’s absence hurt the chances that significant healthcare reform legislation be passed, or will an outpouring of sympathy and respect for the Senator ensure passage of a healthcare bill?

Reuters is reporting that Kennedy’s physical absence on Capitol Hill had already created a void felt by those seeking a deal in the healthcare debate. On the other hand the report says, “Kennedy’s death, with the extensive news coverage and outpouring of affection for him, could actually jump-start the effort for legislation that would be seen as a tribute to his lifetime of work.”

A story in the Guardian noted that with or without Kennedy, President Obama would probably still have run into Republican opposition to healthcare reform, but implied that the Senator may have been able to work for a compromise. Quoting Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who had worked closely with Kennedy on social issues, “It is a very one-sided, very liberal bill. I know that Ted would not have done that had he been able to be here.”

Certainly the news out of The White House yesterday that the deficit this year is going to balloon to a record $1.6 trillion will have a sobering effect on those faced with making the decision to endorse legislation that is estimated to cost $1 trillion over the next ten years.

Without Kennedy to work for compromise and facing staggering deficits, it would seem that any major healthcare reform legislation may be now postponed.

Photo credit: Official White House photograph.

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