Relax for Pete’s Sake

January 14th, 2009 | Sources: Wall Street Journal

California Democrat Pete Stark has tried to expand health care coverage throughout his 36 year career, but now that the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter has aligned with Mars, some worry the congressman’s abrasive style might, ironically, complicate efforts to reform the industry.

As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s health panel, Stark will have a seat at the table when the matter comes up which should be about 8 seconds after the Big O gets sworn in.

But the man is just not the conciliatory type. Last week for example, Stark dismissed the idea of negotiating with Big Insurance on the matter of healthcare reform.

“I think their intention is to see the Democrats fail, regardless of what it does for health care in this country,” the 77 year old told the Wall Street Journal.

That was just a warm-up for his touchy-feely description of Big Insurance which he called “the General Motors of medical care delivery.”


Stark supports by the way, the Big O’s plan to retain employer-based insurance while organizing a new competitive government entity through which individuals and small businesses can purchase coverage.

Stark also wants Tom Daschle, the Big O’s soon-to be-confirmed secretary of HHS to negotiate prescription drug prices through Medicare and the new public program.

“This idea that we just pay anything pharmaceutical companies are going to charge is ludicrous,” Stark says in describing the current Medicare plan.

That remark was sure to pin back the Dobermans’ ears over at Big Pharma, and before long Ken Johnson,  senior VP at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America popped up with a surface-to-air missile of his own.

“We remain opposed to restrictive policies that reduce access of medicines to patients in need and undermine the program’s success,” he told the Journal.

These parries don’t even make it to Stark’s “greatest hits” though. There was the time for example he called former Connecticut Republican Nancy Johnson “a whore for the insurance industry.”

And who can forget the time he addressed Colorado Republican Scott McInnis as “you little fruitcake.”

Stark’s coup de grace though had to be during hearings to override Bush’s veto of SCHIP legislation last year, when he said our government wouldn’t fund children’s health while it was sending young people “to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.”

Stark later apologized for that one.


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