Archive for Monday, August 3, 2009

Health overhaul needs GOP votes to pass, Democrat says

August 3, 2009


— Senate Democrats alone cannot pass President Barack Obama’s ambitious overhaul of how Americans receive health care, a top lawmaker acknowledged on Sunday. Republicans said they will continue their opposition to a plan they say is simply a government takeover of private decisions.

Both sides said they want to improve the system and provide care for almost 50 million Americans who lack health insurance coverage, but they remain deeply divided over how to reach that goal. Republicans said the longer the delay, the more the public understands the stakes of a policy that has vexed lawmakers for decades.

“Republicans want to protect the right of Americans to make their own health care decisions, to pick their own doctors and their own plans,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. “We could have a plan in a few weeks if the goal is not a government takeover. We’ve never seen the government operate a plan of any kind effectively and at the budgets we talked about.”

Democrats countered that their plans — and there are many iterations on Capitol Hill, as committees in both the House and Senate work on versions — would expand coverage without adding to the deficit. Even so, they are likely to leave for an August recess without a vote.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said they are “80 percent” in agreement on what a final version will include and are making progress.

In separate interviews, Obama adviser David Axelrod used the same line, underscoring the White House’s desire to paint the missed deadline as a hiccup rather than a hurdle.

“Now, we’re at the final 20 percent and we’re trying to work through those details,” Axelrod said during one appearance.

During another, he added: “We’re less interested in hard deadlines than in moving the process forward. The deadlines have had a disciplining effect. … What we don’t want is for the process to bog down here. We want to keep moving forward, and I believe we will.

That final piece, however, will require GOP backing — something Sen. Mitch McConnell said was unlikely. The Senate minority leader said congressional Democrats are having difficulty selling a health care bill to their own members.

“The only thing bipartisan about the measure so far is the opposition to it,” said McConnell, R-Ky.

It’s a reality a key Democratic senator acknowledged. Even though the Democrats enjoy a majority in the Senate, some are skittish about the financial or political costs of the proposals.

“Look, there are not the votes for Democrats to do this just on our side of the aisle,” said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the chairman of the powerful budget committee.

Or even their side of the Capitol.

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat and a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs, said he doubts the Democratic-controlled House could pass a proposal.

“We have a long way to go,” he said. “David Axelrod is right; we have agreement on 70 or 80 percent of the legislation, but it is important we get the other details right, too.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, insisted she has the votes in her chamber to move forward with the plan despite the same concerns among fiscally conservative fellow Democrats.

“When I take this bill to the floor, it will win. We will move forward, it will happen,” Pelosi said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who led her husband’s failed health care push in 1993, said Obama has made a convincing case for an overhaul.

“He’s waded right into it. And I am somewhat encouraged by what I see happening in the Congress. You know, I’ve been there. I know how hard this is,” said Clinton, a one-time Obama rival.

“I think that the time has come. I think this president is committed to it. I think the leadership in Congress understands we have to do something. And I, I think we’ll get it done.”


beatrice 8 years, 9 months ago

In other words, Democrats don't walk in lock-step to get legislation passed.

exhawktown 8 years, 9 months ago

That pretty much says it, Snap. And we're supposed to believe he supports our right to choose?

exhawktown 8 years, 9 months ago

Logic, For your benefit, I'm pasting in this link. Sorry if people are getting sick of it, but if you're tired of Republicans bleeting like sheep, you can see for yourself what the bleeting is about. This is a link to HR 3200, which was the last bill the House was considering. This is not any final bill that has been voted on, obviously, but was one of the last bills the House was batting around.

And Logic, of course I don't expect you'll read the whole thing. But would you mind looking at Section 102, labeled "Protecting the Choice to Keep Current Coverage" and if you want, comment on your interpretation of that. I'm not trying to be a jerk here, I'm trying to see what you are interested in knowing. Sincerely.

madameX 8 years, 9 months ago

I posted this on another thread, but evidently it bears repeating. I'm guessing you're referring to the "insurance companies won't be allowed to enroll new customers" interpretation of this part of the bill:

madameX (Anonymous) says…

Here's a link to the actual bill:

If you start at the beginning of the section which the Pg 16 paragraph is part of (bottom of pg 14) you can get a better idea of the context. From what I can tell, this section is laying out certain standards that, if passed, this bill will require all insurance plans to meet. Sec. 102(a)(1)(A) is part of a section on grandfathering in old plans, meaning that if your plan doesn't meet the new standards you can keep it, but if new people are enrolled after the bill takes effect the plans they are enrolled in have to meet the new standards. I don't think it means they can't enroll new customers, I think it means they can't enroll new customers on old plans.

exhawktown 8 years, 9 months ago

madame X, if you're addressing me (sorry if you're not) no, I'm not referring to new enrollees, I'm referring to the grace period of 5 years for existing plans. My link's version does not include page numbers, but it's in Section 102 (b). I'm also concerned with section c, for various reasons.

I know nobody is going to cross-check the references to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act right now. But if you have an interpretation of these sections, by all means, throw 'em out here and let's discuss this bill itself rather than . . . rhetoric.

madameX 8 years, 9 months ago


Sorry, thought you were referring to a different section. When I have time to reveiw the part you're talking about I'll comment.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Another way to look at this is: some moderate Democrats are choosing not to march over the cliff with Pelosi & Reid.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 9 months ago

Remember Porkulus, 246 Democrats in the House voted for it, 7 voted against it. All 57 Democrats voted for it, 0 against. Golly, those Congressional Democrats are an independent thinking lot. For the sake of completeness, don't forget that 3 Republicans voted for Porkulus.

madameX 8 years, 9 months ago

Okay, here's how I'm interpreting it: a Health Insurance Exchange is to be established (Sec. 201) which sets a minimum standard for what health insurance is. If plans meet that standard, fine, if not they can't be called heath plans. I sort of suspect this could be gotten around by insurance companies by calling non-exchange plans something else and slapping a load of disclaimers on them, the way nutritional supplements claims "haven't been evaluated by the FDA" and the supplements "aren't intended to treat or cure any disease"

Sec. 102(b), from what I can tell, gives 5 years for existing plans to brought up to the minimum standard. I agree that it's potentially problematic because, while the intent is probably not to allow people to keep health coverage that is the same in name only, that may be the effect for some people. Also, I tried to cross-check the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act but I couldn't find the section referred to in the health care bill. If anyone else wants to have a go, here's a link:

Sec. 102(c) doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I'm thinking it's referring to non-employer based coverage, and requiring that all new plans enrolling people after Y1 be exchange plans. Again, I'm thinking this would be gotten around by selling something that looks a functions the same as what is currently called health insurance but doesn't meet the minimum requirements, and calling it something different. And again, potentially problematic for some.

I think the intent is to make sure that if people know what they're getting when they get health insurance and that they can't be sold something calling itself health insurance that won't actually cover them (and have legal recourse if they are), not to force people out of their existing plans just for the heck of it. I'm actually kind of on the fence about these provisions, though, because while they do have the potential to cause too much interference, I don't think that's necessarily guaranteed, and I can't think of a better way to acomplish what they're trying to acomplish at the moment.

madameX 8 years, 9 months ago

Oh, yeah, and that's in response to exhawktown.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 9 months ago

I thought the demorats were in total control. What they need is the GOP to vote for this pile of donkey dukey so they can have some cover when this proves to be failure and the public is looking for the responsible parties at election time. This government is in shambles. All you folks who voted for Obama and these clowns in congress should be very proud.

exhawktown 8 years, 9 months ago

MadameX, your 2nd paragraph--that's pretty much how I interpreted 102(b), as well. I also agree about 102(c). I think it's individual (private) plans once the legislation goes into effect. I don't like the limitations.

I'm not sure I'm following what you're saying about insurance companies being able to get around these requirements by calling an insurance plan something other than an insurance plan. Seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to in order to circumvent semantics issues.

Do you see, or do you know of anything in this bill that requires an individual to have a plan, by law? (Including a public option)? I think it's in there, just haven't investigated that aspect yet.

Thanks for taking the time to look at it and to offer your interpretations.

I understand what you're saying in your last paragraph, I just disagree. While I don't think the intent is to force anyone out of an existing plan for the heck of it, I'm not so sure I trust the intent is to make sure people know what they're getting at all. Heck, think how long it took you and I to simply talk about one little section of this thing. To me, it doesn't clarify much. And I do believe for some (lawmakers), the intent is to move to a single-payer system, which would, in my opinion, suck massively. I agree there is a potential to cause too much interference. Way too much.

madameX 8 years, 9 months ago


I don't know of any provision that would require everyone to be covered and would be against it if it existed.

My point with the insurance-that's-not-insurance if there is actually a legal definition of what insurance has to be, it doesn't necessarily mean that all things not insurance are banned (although that might be the intent), it just means that if you sell something that's not insurance you have to call it something other than insurance. Think of how SUV's get around emissions standards: they have gas engines like cars, the put out the same kind of emisisons as cars, but they're not included in the legal definition of what a car is so they're not held to the same standard. I think. I'll try to come up with a better example.

BTW, you're probably right about some lawmakers wanting a single payer system, but I don't think they're anywhere near enough to being a majority to make that happen.

exhawktown 8 years, 9 months ago

MadameX--Thanks again! Appreciate the feedback/interaction. I get your 2nd paragraph. My worry is if there is a provision requiring coverage, there would be no "get around." I don't know though. Will be looking in the next few days. But then, I'm sure there's a whole new bill in the works. . .

madameX 8 years, 9 months ago

That's why I'm not in favor of a provision requiring coverage. I think that reasonable, effective coverage should be made available, but if people don't want to take advantage it's ultimately up to them. Plus, my brother-in-law lives in Massachusettes and the word on the street from him is that it's not as great an idea in practice as in theory.

jwhenry508 8 years, 9 months ago

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