29 July 2009

Breaking: House Dems reach deal on health insurance reform

House Retains Public Option In Compromise, But Delays Vote Until September | TPMDC
There will almost certainly be a bill ready for a vote when the House comes back into session in September. That bill will have been endorsed in preliminary votes by a significant number of Blue Dogs. And in the House, where there's no filibuster, that makes its prospects for ultimate passage look very solid.
Conservative House Dems, known as "Blue Dogs" had been balking at the more liberal version of reform that the Tri-Com panel had proposed with HR 3200.  There had even been a total breakdown of discussions between the Blue Dogs and Energy Chairman Henry Waxman last week, with Waxman threatening to bring the bill straight to the floor, bypassing his own committee.  Things were looking pretty bleak in the House for a while.

Aparently now the intra-party disputes have been settled, to some degree, and the details of the compromise are beginning to emerge:
  • The Public Plan is retained, but slightly weakened.
  • Rates for the public plan are no longer based on Medicare, but must be negotiated separately by HHS.
  • States may start health care co-ops in addition to the public plan, if they choose.
  • Employers must still offer health insurance or pay a penalty.
  • The exemption for small businesses has been doubled from businesses with payrolls <$250K to those with businesses <$500K.
  • The subsidies for higher-earning people will be slightly reduced.
Ostensibly, this version of the bill will cost about $100 billion less.

As mistrustful of the Blue Dogs as I am, if this report is accurate, it may be that this is actually an improvement on the original proposal.  I've never been a proponent of a too-strong public plan, and even as a bleeding heart lib, I can tolerate reduced subsidies for folks making, what $66-88K per year? 

More important is what this compromise preserves:
  • The National Insurance Exchange
  • Community Rating
  • Guaranteed Issue
  • Individual Mandates
  • Employer Mandates
  • Universal (or near-universal) coverage
Thus, the heart of the reforms are intact.   I was getting a little worried: if the House couldn't get anything done, what hope was there that the Senate would ever be able to get on board?  The big concession the Blue Dogs seem to have extracted is that there won't be a vote of the House till September.  That's just Politics 101: don't make your vulnerable members stick their necks out on a tough vote until it looks like the Senate is in sync and the whole thing is moving forward.  Otherwise, if the House passes something now, and the whole thing dies in the Senate over the recess, then a whole slew of Democratic representatives will be in the worst of all worlds: having taken a hige risk voting for a controversial bill that doesn't even pass.

Hopefully that eventuality won't come to pass, making these fears of the Blue Dogs moot.


  1. I strongly agree with the principles of HR 3200, but am really discouraged by how many crucial issues it totally.

    The biggest ignored elephant in the room is federal Medicaid law regarding long-term care, which both parties are completely ignoring in this debate. The feds will continue to mandate that state Medicaid agencies provide care for the disabled in institutions, which cost the most of any long-term care option, while home care services, the least expensive option, are slashed to the bone by states because they are “optional.” Nursing homes, an antiquated, discriminatory model based on segregation and neglect that is widely hated, is enshrined in law as mandatory, because Congress' corporate pimps say so. People with disabilities are forced every day to leave their taxpaying jobs and families behind to go into these prisons. It’s the only way they can get the care needed to stay alive. “Give up your freedom or give up your life,” is no choice at all.

    I bang the drum against this injustice frequently on my blog, but (aside from
    perhaps this new piece in Salon) I am hearing NOTHING from doctors discussing reform. These policies are resulting in billions of unnecessary cost, terrible patient care and countless stolen lives, yet few seem to even notice, much less care.

    Please notice. Please care.


  2. As our rights are infringed upon by our own government, Americans and those here legally will never benefit from a decent health care plan, owing to the abomination called ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. By an Act in United States Congress passed in 1986, Hospital and ambulance services must provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment in spite of citizenship, legal status or capacity to pay. The predicament being that 20 million plus illegal immigrant families are using this law, for even minor ailments such as the common cold. Why should foreign nationals sign up for health care or anything, when they can get Taxpayers to pay for it all..?
    But this is not just an American dilemma, as it has been forcibly imposed on subjects of the European Union. This is causing a major derailment in the EU, because both legal and illegal entrants are stealing away the single payer medical care providers, to the citizens who have paid into the system from the time they first started work.

    A decent controlled governmental health care benefit, can—NEVER--be established, when a startling report disclosed the details of a cloaked meeting between nationwide businesses and open-borders groups working under the radical cover of the IMMIGRATIONWORKSUSA a lobbying group. The secret Capitol Hill National Summit" took place last month and revealed the sinister intention behind the lobbying entities efforts.
    Tamar Jacoby, who runs ImmigrationWorksUSA, kicked off the conference by stating the true aspiration of the coalition. The basic target is to promote THE FREE FLOW OF LABOR INTO THE USA, with—AS ALWAYS-- the taxpayer being the beneficiary for corporate welfare. They want expedited cheap labor, where no American worker—NEED APPLY!

    WE MUST ACT NOW, OR IT WILL BE TOO LATE! These special interest lobbyists are well furnished with money from corporate America. We must empower mandated E-Verify as part of the Save Act, where everybody is screened in the workplace. Call your lawmaker TODAY! at 202-224-3121 I Want a health care system--even government run. BUT IT"S SURE TO FAIL, IF TAXES ARE BEING EXTORTED TO PAY FOR FREE HEALTH CARE FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS?

    Millions of phone calls from angry Americans are jamming the Washington Switchboards. It is making these pandering politicians to corporate welfare, very anxious. Support for the bi-partisan E-VERIFY PART OF THE SAVE Act, which will expand E-Verify and protect American Workers! We must focus on the monolithic problem in terminating illegal immigrants-and the jobs that attract illegal aliens. WE WILL ALWAYS BE PAYING FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS, UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING NOW? Many GOP members are against a Path to citizenship for lawbreakers, so we mostly need the phones ringing in the ears of Democrats, who see the millions of illegal aliens as a positive voting block. WE MUST STOP IT NOW OF SUFFER FROM IRREVERSIBLE POPULATION GROWTH.


  3. The government should not cover long term care. If you are 85 years old you have had 65 years at least to contemplate and plan how you end up. What ever happened to personal reaponsibility and the responsibilities of familie to take care of their own?


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