Chicago Sun-Times
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Dan Lipinski--a diabetic--getting more scrutiny over opposition to health care bill

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Updated...
(please note: You'll notice I struck the portions where I wrote earlier that Lipinski would be eligible to buy health coverage for his lifetime after serving a stint as a congressman. Lipinski spokesman Nathaniel Zimmer said that would only kick in at his retirement. I am not certain, but debate is going on now on the health care bill and I am in the House press gallery working on Monday's column, so it is difficult to sort this out now. The central point is the same: Lipinski got insurance when he came to Congess, even with a pre-existing condition.)

WASHINGTON--With the House Sunday health care vote a cliffhanger--Democratic leaders are close to the 216 needed for passage--holdout Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)--a diabetic--over the weekend became a special focus of Democratic leaders.

I'm told that Democratic leaders in Washington and Illinois are "confounded" by Lipinski's opposition to the bill because he is a diabetic who would find it tough--maybe impossible--to find insurance coverage if he were not in Congress.


Lipinski, a strong anti-abortion lawmaker, has said he will vote no on the bill unless stricter bans are in place to ensure no federal money is channeled to clinics providing abortions or to insurance plans offering abortions. He has other issues with the legislation, but abortion is the major one.

As of mid-day Sunday, President Obama's team is weighing issuing a executive order to assure the anti-abortion holdouts, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) that the Hyde amendment (named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) banning any federal money for abortion would apply to anything new created in the bill--whether it be clinics or insurance coverage. Stupak has said no final deal has been reached. A group of abortion rights lawmakers were meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to go over the executive order proposal.


People remember that former Rep. Bill Lipinski (D-Ill.) used political trickery to line-up his Third Congressional District seat for Dan Lipinski, who returned to Illinois from Tennessee to get to Congress through a rigged 2004 nomination. At the time, the scuttlebutt was Bill Lipinski wanted his son in the seat long enough in order to have him vested enrolled in the congressional insurance coverage plan for life. Other well connected Southwest Siders stood down at the time to help out Dan Lipinski.

With his expected re-election in November, Lipinski becomes vested in a plan that will give him lifetime coverage.
"It's kind if stunning that he would deprive millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions the same security he is given as a member of Congress," a vote counter close to the situation told me. "That is exactly the kind of thing that enrages folks who are out there struggling."

Lipinski's concerns over abortion and other aspects of the bill trump provisions in it that would help people with diabetes. The bill would ban insurance companies from denying people coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

In 2007, Lipinski said, "As a juvenile diabetic, I have a special understanding of how critical it is to have health insurance and access to health care. I will continue to work to provide health insurance to the most vulnerable Americans, our children."

In 2004, after Lipinski was anointed the heir to his father's seat, he told the Chicago Sun-Times Abdon Pallasch that as a diabetic who takes multiple insulin injections a day, he wants "health care more available and more affordable."


I'm hearing that Democrats in Washington and Illinois and the labor community are so infuriated with Lipinski that they may start early lining up a 2012 Democratic primary challenger. Lipinski is immune from a primary challenge now because the Illinois primary--the first in the nation--was Feb. 2. His November re-election is assured because he comes from a safe Democratic district. But a no vote on Sunday could cause Lipinski two years of aggravation.


Since Monday, the President had at least 64 meetings or phone calls with Members of Congress on health insurance reform. I hear Lipinski is one of them.

I put calls e-mails into Lipinski and his spokesman to ask about whether an executive order would remedy his objections. And I want to ask how his own diabetic condition--and his ability to get health insurance-- is balanced against his opposition to abortion. I will update later with developments.

17 Comments

It may be too late to run a primary opponent, but what about a third-party candidate?

I'm in Dan Lipinski's congressional district and have voted for him. I was not aware of his absolutist position on abortion. It certainly was not emphasized in his campaigns. I am aghast that we could have lost this vote due to his myopic approach to the health care bill.

It's been more than obvious that there was no intention to change the rules with respect to abortion. In fact the democratic leadership has "bent over backwards" to address this issue. No one has (to my knowledge) satisfactorily explained to me how the Hyde amendment (which requires majority vote in the House and supermajority vote in the senate) to be overturned. This is political grandstanding.

He's already voted no to the preliminary vote:
http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/111/house/2/163?ref=policy

This blog commentary, if true, makes Rep. Lipinski a complete and utter disgrace. He has failed his district and his party. He's abandoned his supposed Catholic values by abandoning the sick, the unfortunate and particularly the poor of this country. This story, again if true, makes Dan a hypocrite and a cheat.

He has a single chance to redeem himself and that is to vote for HR 3590.

If he continues to vote no, I will ask everyone I know in the district to vote against him in the November election (it doesn't matter who the republican is at this point, since they will share the same absolutist approach to policy) and will look forward to a competitive primary of true democrats in 2012.

It may be too late for the primary, but redistricting is right around the corner.
This is one selfish politician.

Thank you for your coverage on my congressman, Rep. Lipinski. I was extremely upset when the Illinois Democratic Party ran roughshod over voters in 2004 and have been very dissatisfied by his performance - he voted consistently with President Bush's legislation and has shown lackluster (if nonexistant) support for Canditate and now President Obama. I look forward to future columns.

That he would support Stupak with a no vote and hold up this bill is the height of arrogance, insensitivity and hypocrisy. There are Americans suffering NOW for lack of access to health care. Americans alive NOW, not an imagined future embryo, are dying from lack of access to health care.

The language in the Stupak amendment is draconian, especially since abortion remains a legal procedure. How many women do you know have specifically bought insurance for an abortion? Do insurance companies even cover elective abortions? I doubt it.

Abortion is a serious issue but for Lipinski to use it as a club to obstruct this important health bill is despicable, cowardly and arrogant. I'm voting Green in November.

Mr. Lipinski,
You should be totally ashamed of yourself. you are a disgrace to the Dems.......
I'm praying that you lose your seat in congress....

What great reporting (yesterday too), Lynn. Why are we not hearing about this anywhere else?

First, when his abortion excuse evaporates, (thanks to full consensus that the Hyde amendment remains intact, so says experts, national group of nuns, 600 Catholic Hospitals, Bart Stupak, for God's sake, and an executive order!) Lipinski's excuse is then all over the map.

Yesterday's story was very telling when he said that he didn't think his vote would hurt him because his dad also voted against major legislation by Clinton (deficit reduction). What a thing to brag about! Now, to hear that he has diabetes and won via a rigged election so HE could get insurance!

This guy needs to be removed from office and made aware that he was not elected a democrat in this position to vote against landmark legislation to help 32 million people. And to vote against it for no good reason.

Dems can do better than have a hypocrite happy with his insurance who tries to take it away from others.

I, too, live in this district and contribute everything I can to contribute to his removal.

Lynn, hope you keep going with this story!

This guy is unbelievable! What a tin ear he has! Does he think he will be re-elected with this type of action. His blood sugar must be wrong and he must think he is back in Tennesee. I will not forget this bonehead move...

It was so much fun watching these pathetic GOP lawmakers "warning" the Democrats how badly the passage of health care reform would hurt them at the polls in November. What can I tell you? They're beneath contempt.

Is this the perfect bill? Far from it. I am reminded of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. You've never heard of it either, huh? Don't be embarrassed if you haven't. It wasn't much of a law - a mere pittance, really. Nothing more that a few scraps tossed out in order to appease the "American Negro" (in the parlance of that day and age). But its passage made the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the one we remember) a little easier to get though seven years later.

We'll live to fight another day.

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

Tom Degan

Prior to the vote, I emailed Mr. Lipinski (I refuse to call him my congressman), I called, I visited his office, all to no avail. He seems to have no empathy for those who would have suffered had not the other representatives stepped up to the plate to do the job. You would think that someone with diabetes would at least have some sympathy for the plight of uninsured diabetics, but apparently he's happy that he's got his and they can all just...well...do without their insulin and health care for all he cares.

I never liked the way he came into office, but I have voted for him. No more. Why bother? You can't count on him when the going gets tough. He's undependable.

Hopefully, we can find someone better to run against him. I wonder if Mark Pera would consider running again as an Independent. I know that I'd beat the bushes to help him find the votes to oust Lipinski.

I'm very disappointed in Mr. Lipinski and myself. I blindly followed the Illinois Democratic Party and supported Mr. Lipinski in past elections. I will not be so foolish again. Thank you for this article and for opening my eyes to who I have voted for. I did try to reach Mr. Lipinksi's office last week to inform him of my views on healthcare so he could accurately represent me, but I could only reach his voicemail. I guess he doesn't even want to pretend to listen to his consituants.

Thank you very much for your article. I too have tried to contact Mr. Lipinski to no avail. I will vote Republican in November's election just to unseat him.

I called his office on Archer Ave. I did get to speak to an Aide who dutifully took down my complaints and said they were keeping record of the responses. I am planning on voting for Laurel Schmidt of the Greene party in November, as I cannot bring myself to vote Republican... however, if that spoils it for Danny Boy and the Pub wins.. so be it! He needs to go as he does NOT represent us.

Thanks for your article, Lynn.

I called Mr. Lipinski's office and wrote him emails in advance of the vote begging him to support this badly needed reform, to no avail. Thankfully the rest of the party pulled together and passed this historic legislation.

I will volunteer as much of my time as I can trying to unseat him with either a 3rd party candidate in 2010 or in a primary in 2012.

He needs to be made to feel the consequences his no vote will have. What a coward.

I wrote and e-mailed Lipinski as well. I have yet to receive a response. I guess he is not concerned with thoughts and feelings of the people he is supposed to represent. He has lost my vote as well.

This guy is a snake! I actually voted for him in the primary thinking he wanted to help people. When I called his office and asked how he would be voting, a week before the vote, his attendant didn't have a response. Lipinski seemed to just be waiting to see how this would play out politically in his favor. Then, he had the nerve to mail me a letter with his letterhead, stating how he supported the BIL and would vote for it, but he lied...

I spoke with one of Lipinski aides. I told him that in newspaper obituary, I would be saying I suffered and died without health care insurance because of politicians such as Lipinski, Stupak, Arcuri, and Guiterrez were planning to voted NO.
The aides of Stupak, Guiterrez, and Stupak seemed haltingly concerned but Lipinski's office seem hard hearted, couldn't have care less if one died at their door step. Guess he unconcerned as long as he has his Platinum Plated Congressional health care coverage. Sound like a hardened Republican to me.

The leadership of the various groups who (mistakenly) voted for and funded the campaign of Prez Obama need to be held accountable. It is not Prez Obama's fault that he is in the pocket of the big money crooks...he would not be in the Oval Office if not for the fools like us who voted for his unworthy self.

Time to not be fooled again...lest there be shame on US.

Accountability is necessary in order to hold people to specific goals and outcomes.

It is clear that Prez Obama is a "trojan horse." Prez Obama is a gifted orator.

That is about all that he is.

He can talk the talk. He cannot/will not/is too incompetent to...WALK THE WALK.
It is high time for the leadership of various interests to QUICKLY identify a viable candidate who is serious and who means business.

Campaigns are expensive. Campaigns cost MILLIONS of dollars.

Competent leadership will act QUICKLY.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 21, 2010 12:15 PM.

Quigley, Lipinski health care bill holdouts over abortion was the previous entry in this blog.

Foster a yes on health care is the next entry in this blog.

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