Archive for Sunday, March 21, 2010

Obama, Democrats on track for health care vote

President Barack Obama, second from the left, prepares to take his seat during his visit to Capitol Hill to meet with House Democrats in Washington, Saturday, March 20, 2010. On stage with Obama are from left to right, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.

President Barack Obama, second from the left, prepares to take his seat during his visit to Capitol Hill to meet with House Democrats in Washington, Saturday, March 20, 2010. On stage with Obama are from left to right, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.

March 21, 2010, 10:33 a.m. Updated March 21, 2010, 5:54 p.m.


— President Barack Obama and House Democratic leaders struck a last-minute deal Sunday with abortion foes to secure the final few votes needed to remake America's health care system, writing a climactic chapter in a century-old quest for near universal coverage.

The House argued its way through a thicket of Republican objections toward an evening vote on the bill to extend coverage to 32 million Americans who lack it, ban insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.

A shouting band of protesters outside the Capitol dramatized their opposition, and one man stood up in the House visitor's gallery shouting, "Kill the bill" before he was ushered out — evidence of the passions the yearlong debate over health care has stirred.

Passage of a central health care bill already cleared by the Senate would send it to Obama for his signature. That still would leave one more step, a companion package of changes would go to the Senate.

Obama lobbied by phone from the White House, then took the crucial step of issuing an executive order that satisfied a small group of Democrats who demanded that no federal funds be used for elective abortions. "We're well past 216" votes, a majority, said Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, swinging behind the bill after leading the holdouts in a rebellion that had left the outcome in doubt.

Democratic aides confirmed his vote count.

After more than a year of political combat — certain to persist into the fall election campaign for control of Congress — debate on the House floor fell along predictable lines.

"The public has been grievously and purposely lied to," by Republicans in their efforts to defeat the legislation, said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., a clear reference to GOP accusations that included the claim that there would be death panels for elderly patients.

Republicans opposed the measure as a takeover of government health care that would cut Medicare and raise taxes by nearly $1 trillion combined. Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., criticized the Democrats for their tactics on the House floor, but said, "the greatest outrage has always been for the bill itself."

Over and over, Democrats stressed the historic nature of the day.

"Health care isn't only a civil right, it's a moral issue," said Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I. He said his late father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., had worked his entire career for nationwide health care, and President John F. Kennedy before him.

Slaughter, read a message President Franklin Roosevelt sent Congress in 1939 urging lawmakers to address the needs of those without health care, and said Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Richard Nixon had also sought to broaden health insurance coverage.

Obama has said often that presidents of both parties have tried without success to achieve national health insurance, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.

The 44th president's quest to succeed where others have failed seemed at a dead end two months ago, when Republicans won a special election for a Massachusetts Senate seat, and with it, the votes to prevent a final vote.

But the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., soon came up with a rescue plan that required the House to approve the Senate-passed measure despite opposition to many of its provisions, then have both houses pass a fix-it measure incorporating numerous changes.

Under the order of the day, set down by Democrats, the House was voting first on the Senate-passed bill, sending it to Obama for his signature. A final vote on the fix-it bill would follow. Its passage would set up a final showdown in the Senate, where Reid says the votes are in hand for its final approval.

Under the legislation, most Americans would be required to purchase insurance, and face penalties if they refused. Much of the money in the bill would be devoted to subsidies to help families at incomes of up to $88,000 a year pay their premiums.

The legislation would also usher in a significant expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor. Coverage would be required for incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, $29,327 a year for a family of four. Childless adults would be covered for the first time, starting in 2014.

The insurance industry would come under new federal regulation. They would be forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions and from canceling policies when a policyholder becomes ill.

Parents would be able to keep older kids on their coverage up to age 26. A new high-risk pool would offer coverage to uninsured people with medical problems until 2014, when the coverage expansion goes into high gear.

Once enacted, the two bills would create a series of so-called "insurance exchanges" beginning in 2014 where consumers could shop for individual coverage that meets federal standards.

To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade, roughly half of it from a new Medicare payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000. A new excise tax on high-cost insurance policies was significantly scaled back in deference to complaints from organized labor.

In addition, the bills cut more than $500 billion from planned payments to hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other providers that treat Medicare patients. An estimated $200 billion would reduce planned subsidies to insurance companies that offer a private alternative to traditional Medicare.

The insurance industry warned that seniors would face sharply higher premiums as a result, and the Congressional Budget Office said many would return to traditional Medicare as a result.

The subsidies are higher than those for seniors on traditional Medicare, a difference that critics complain is wasteful, but insurance industry officials argue goes into expanded benefits.


RiverCityConservative 7 years, 10 months ago

Good. Glad to hear it. It is about time the Democrats stop wringing their hands and start acting boldly on behalf of the American people.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 10 months ago

Moreover, tax dollars also pay for critical elements of the health care system apart from direct care—Medicare funds much of the expensive equipment hospitals use, for instance, along with all medical residencies.

All told, then, tax dollars already pay for at least $1.2 trillion in annual U.S. health care expenses. Since federal, state, and local governments collected approximately $3.5 trillion in taxes of all kinds—income, sales, property, corporate—in 2006, that means that more than one third of the aggregate tax revenues collected in the United States that year went to pay for health care for about 60% of those insured.

Recognizing these hidden costs that U.S. households pay for health care today makes it far easier to see how a universal single-payer system—with all of its obvious advantages—can cost most Americans less than the one we have today.

Medicare must exist in the fragmented world that is American health care—but no matter how creative the opponents of single-payer get, there is no way they can show convincingly how the administrative costs of a single-payer system could come close to the current level.

More on this matter: =============================================== IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL

Health Care In the USA

Doctors for Single Payer

skinny 7 years, 10 months ago

You think this Country in is debt now, it will be bankrupt for sure now. Just where do you think the money for this new healthcare system is going to come from? Stupidest thing I ever heard the government do. The Government has no business being in the health care business! It is time for all the lawsuits.

Dr. Adrian Rogers said it best;

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

There are principled arguments to make about this bill and the deficit.

Too bad most in the GOP have no ethical and moral authority on this issue, having stood by and voted with Bush to engage in two wars and give masisve tax cuts to the wealthy. Indeed, many in the GOP said that running a deficit is healthy, that it is ok.

Now, the GOP deficit hawks are conveniently back. This deep hypocrisy makes any argument thay make ring hollow. The GOP lacks the authority to talk about deficits.

Too bad, because principled opposition is a good. The GOP present unprincipled opposition.

Mike Ford 7 years, 10 months ago

I once heard of a band Loudness. Like Loudness, I hear a bunch of mindless noise predicting the end of the world dating from the Reagan Eighties. No one complains when there is a huge tax giveaway for the rich at the expense of the rest of us. How dare we have some equality in this discussion.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 10 months ago

sniff sniff...

Smells like little barrypampers has evacuated himself.

skinny 7 years, 10 months ago

Virginia First State to Pass Health Care Freedom Act: 38 States Lining Up Against ObamaCare.

Kansas is first in line to Pass Health Care Freedom bill if this bill passes thank God!

Jimo 7 years, 10 months ago

"There are principled arguments to make about this bill and the deficit. Too bad most in the GOP have no ethical and moral authority on this issue"

I agree. This isn't the bill that I would have wanted. But it is better than doing nothing, which is what the various monied interests want. I predict that in less than a generation GOP leaders will openly decry the failures of the current Republican leadership to engage, compromise, and work towards a better law.

LiberalDude 7 years, 10 months ago

This is a good first step on health care reform. I hope the bill passes. It doesn't go as far as most progressives were hoping for but it is a huge improvement on the status quo.

BigPrune 7 years, 10 months ago

This will surely send the country into a great depression. Just what Obama wants. Caterpillar said this bill will cost their company $100,000,000 just in the first year. If anyone works for a company with over 50 employees, say 60 employees, expect more layoffs.

According to Gallup, the underemployed / unemployed tops 20% as it stands today.

25% is a great depression.

We ain't seen nothing yet. If you work for the government, thank your lucky stars. If you work for small business, the back bone of our country, might as well get ready for the soup kitchens for your daily meal.

World War II got us out of the last depression. Should we expect WW III in the not too distant future?

Sunny Parker 7 years, 10 months ago

Pay for your own health insurance! Stop with the government (tax dollars) hand-outs!

Obomba is killing this country! Why is he not figuring out how to create jobs (like he promised)!

Why did Obomba lie and say taxes would not be increased? My federal tax deduction has increased in my pay check. I cannot fathom how much will be deducted if this hand-out passes!

Be responsible for yourselves and stop believing others should take care of you!

Jay Keffer 7 years, 10 months ago

"I believe slavery is a much maligned institution; if we had slavery today, we would not have this welfare mess"

The above 'quote' never appeared in Rogers written or verbal works. Citiations of it are questionable at best, and do not model the teachings or beliefs of any of Roger's other body of work.

Here is a documented quote of his to chew on: If you have a Bible that’s falling apart, you’ll have a life that’s not.

notajayhawk 7 years, 10 months ago

Oak (anonymous) says…

"It is wrong to attempt to force all to accept the belief of one group."

You mean like forcing everyone to carry health insurance whether they need/want to or not?

finance 7 years, 10 months ago

I don't care whether the Dems or the Repubs are right. I just want to make a statement that this country is on the wrong course following the anti-tax people. I'd vote for the devil himself if I could show that he has a soul. Yeah, that means the Brownbutts of the world are trash.

finance 7 years, 10 months ago

Homeslice, you're an idiot. But get in line: you're not the first. Unbelievable, but every so predictable. Disgusting--get a life--actually, get off the planet, you fool--the fact that you can read one word at a time (albeit slowly) and not have any evident credentials is proof enough that you're a first-class idiot. Jeez...

finance 7 years, 10 months ago

Slavery is evil. Anti-tax people are evil. That's the end analysis: now I'm finished. Enjoy your Brownbutt lives.

cowboy 7 years, 10 months ago

Barry , you are beyond irritating , like a slot machine that each time its pulled pays off in random buckets of bullSh!t.

Jimo 7 years, 10 months ago

After yesterday's potty-mouthed bigot festival in Washington, I believe we can now these cranks, dead-enders, and general losers the Tea Potty!

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

So, are you left wingers going to feed the health insurance corporations or pay the annual fine?

Jay Keffer 7 years, 10 months ago

Finance, I truly hope your day gets better.

Healthcare 'reform' bottom line: Another tax on the backs of the Productive Class. When will it stop?!?

justsaying 7 years, 10 months ago

Why can't people have an honest debate without bringing slurs into the arguments? Why do some opposed have to spew hate to try to make a point? Why hasn't the LJ World addressed this on this board?

Scott Drummond 7 years, 10 months ago

Niles, you teabagger, your ignorance is showing again.

Liberty275 7 years, 10 months ago

"How is being taxed ten years for only six years of benifets a good thing?"

The same way paying for medicare for 45 years in hopes of getting 10 years of crappy coverage for $160 a month is a good thing. IOW, it is idiocy.

Barry, lots of these lefties aren't necessarily section 8 freeloaders. I suspect more than a few are fairly productive workers that have bought into the lie, and now it's time for them to start paying in cash.

I'm reminded of the old story about the republican that was a democrat until he was robbed at gunpoint. I think today is the first birthday of lots of new republicans. I say republicans because 99% of liberals will never have the guts to be libertarian. You can take the coward out of the democrat party, but he'll still be a coward.

hornhunter 7 years, 10 months ago

Health care reform, what a joke. Just a feather in the Dems arses I also love the caption below the above picture, Obummer is second from the left, nice.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.