At Home, Congressional Dems Face Voters On Health Bill, Rep. Issa Investigating 'Deals'

"Before Congress left town for the spring recess, Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged rank-and-file Democrats to return home and tout the benefits of the landmark health care bill, Politico reports. But instead, "some have been content to remain beneath the radar. ... Rep. John Boccieri, who represents [a] conservative area in northeast Ohio, is one of them." Boccieri voted for the bill. "For the past week, however, Boccieri has gone dark, surfacing only last Wednesday night — in New York City — at a cocktail party fundraiser to benefit his reelection campaign. Otherwise, the congressman had no public schedule. A spokeswoman said he was focused on 'constituent services.'"

Other Democrats also are also being careful while in their districts and "haven't scheduled events to talk about health care" (Hohmann, 4/5).

Martinsville (Va.) Bulletin: But Rep. Tom Perriello, in a big fight for his seat this fall, fielded questions from constituents on health reform Monday. "The meeting was based at the Senior Center in Charlottesville, where about 75 people were gathered. However, Perriello representatives said more than 5,400 people in the district participated, mostly on the phone. … During the telephone meeting, Paulette Pearman of Cascade asked why the doughnut hole cannot be completely eliminated faster. 'I'd like to see it closed sooner,' Perriello said. But 'we did the best we could' in negotiations among lawmakers" (Powell, 4/6).

The Hill: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered strong rallying cries about the health law, proclaiming Monday night in an interview with Fox News that health reform has "changed America forever." He added: "People compare it to Medicare. Bigger than Medicare. ... Medicare just affected old people. Bigger than Social Security, because at the time Social Security passed it dealt only with old people. This affects everybody. ... If we have to go back and patch things up and fix a few things we can do that. This is not a perfect piece of legislation" (Zimmermann, 4/5).

Fox News has video of the interview (Van Sustern, 4/6).

Politico, in a separate story, reports that a top House Republican is examining deals among the White House, Democratic leadership and special interest groups while crafting the health reform law. "California Rep. Darrell Issa is not happy with the American Medical Association's terse response to his questions. Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, sent letters to five special interest groups, most of which supported reform and cut deals with the Democrats."

He wrote to the AMA, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The AMA wrote a two-paragraph response to Issa, saying advocacy has always been "in the constitutionally protected tradition of petitioning government … and has not resulted in any 'pre-arranged deal or agreement'" (Frates, 4/5).

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