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My takeaways from yesterday…

History was made yesterday.  The House has sent to the President’s desk the first piece of meaningful health reform in decades.  This is not a perfect bill, but it goes a long way towards taking the power away from insurance companies and giving it to people and their doctors.  This bill will finally allow more than 32 million Americans to get health insurance.  This bill will reduce the cost of getting health insurance and, through subsidies, ensure that everyone will have access to care.  This bill will create millions of jobs, pays for itself and will reduce the national deficit.  This bill forces insurance companies to stop their discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions and will stop the despicable practice of coverage being rescinded when someone needs it most.   This bill will ensure that being unemployed doesn’t mean you can’t have health insurance.  This isn’t a perfect bill, but it is a bill that will improve the economy and help millions of Americans.  Thank you to all those who made its passage possible.

A few take-aways from the debate and vote last night:

  1. The Democratic party showed it can be politically savvy as well – Republicans had proposed a roll-call vote on the bill so that they could use that footage in campaign ads, but were rejected.  In addition, the House leadership knew that the Republicans might try to send the bill back to committee (effectively killing it) by calling for a vote on re-inserting the Stupak anti-abortion language back into the bill.  Well, they were right and boy were the Democrats ready for it.  After Steny Hoyer made a brief statement in response to Republican speeches on the matter, he yielded his time to Bart Stupak who made a passionate argument against killing the bill causing his fellow Democrats to rise as one to cheer him.  It was a brilliant speech and helped ensure the Republican plan would fail.  Very effective and very well executed!
  2. The Republican Party, once again, has to deal with an embarrassing incident – 6 months ago it was Joe Wilson shouting “You lie” at the President.  Over the summer it was those awful town hall protests around the country.  Two days ago it was anti-healthcare protesters shouting racist and homophobic things towards members of Congress.  And yesterday, it was a Republican Congressman shouting “Baby Killer” at Rep. Stupak as he delivered his remarks on the House Floor.  This stunning lack of decorum and respect might energize the base, but it turns off the moderate voters who so often decide elections.  Yesterday’s outburst was especially unfortunate because the Republicans had done a very good job throughout the day highlighting a number of their members and make significant progress in ensuring that the voice of their party would not be Ruth Limbaugh.  But that will be overshadowed by a stupid and inappropriate outburst.
  3. No one kills time like Wolf Blitzer – For anyone who has spent any time watching CNN over the past few years, this statement will come as no surprise.  Waiting as the vote totals climbed to the magic 216 number, Blitzer bantered, questioned and cut off as appropriate to keep things entertaining while making sure viewers did not miss the key moments.  Well done Wolf.

So now the reconciliation bill goes to the Senate (that should be fun) and the main healthcare bill goes to the President.  Stay tuned…


Link for 11-2-09 – Healthcare bill

I am several days late on posting this, but the House healthcare bill has been unveiled and, in my humble opinion, it is a really good one!  If you don’t want to read the whole bill (and at a 1,990 pages I can’t blame you) the Education and Labor Committee has posted a really good summary

Some key things that I like:
1. You can keep your plan, but there will be increased competition from an entity focused on care over profits. With this increased competition we can have confidence that healthcare decisions will be made by doctors and not insurance companies.
2. People can not be dropped because they are sick, are using ‘too much’ medical care or have pre-existing conditions
3. There is a mandate to be covered and penalties if you aren’t
4. Simplification of documentation for providers and patients
5. It will, according to the CBO, REDUCE the deficit over the next 10 years
6. Preventative care and wellness will be covered by all plans and companies
7. Caps out-of-pocket expenses to prevent medically-induced bankrupcy

Very likely no amendments will be allowed when the bill comes to the full house for a vote. Doing this will prevent an amendment (being pushed by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) ) which would prevent any government money from being spent on abortions. No way Pelosi allows this bill to be tainted with that and risk losing the liberal wing of the party.

Overall, this is a very good bill and I am looking forward to having it rapidly move through conference, being reconciled with the Senate bill and getting to Obama’s desk.