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Scheherazade On December - 20 - 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is now confident that he has the sixty votes needed to proceed with cloture for H.R.3590. The Senate has met every day since November 30th in the hopes of getting the needed sixty votes to break a Republican filibuster.

After thirteen hours of closed door negotiations on Friday Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) is now on board. “Change is never easy,” Nelson told reporters. “I truly believe this legislation will stand the test of time. The lives of millions Americans will be improved.” The legislation is set to be passed in the Senate by Christmas.

The White House is pleased with the likely outcome and expressed support for the bill, but White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod was hesitant to declare this the complete success originally hoped for when asked by NBC’s David Gregory on Meet the Press if this was “mission accomplished.”

When confronted about the removal of the Public Option from the final bill Axelrod rebuffed criticism from the left and cited an op-ed written by Paul Krugman in Friday’s New York Times. In the op-ed Krugman expresses that progressives should pass the bill despite the absence of a Public Option.

Every Senator that caucuses with the Democrats is needed in order to achieve the magic number of sixty required to overcome a Republican filibuster. No Republican supports this legislation. Even Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has said she will not support the bill given the hurried manner in which it is being handled.

The final bill includes stricter regulations and restrictions for abortion funding and full Medicaid coverage for Ben Nelson’s Nebraska by the federal government. Nebraska is the only state to have been given this perk. All other states are covered until 2017. If the changes are not present in the final bill Nelson has said he will oppose it.

Both sides of the abortion issue seem to be dissatisfied with the compromise. The agreement has created segregation within the way abortions are funded and allows for states to determine whether private insurance companies can offer coverage for abortions within their states. David Axelrod pointed out that this compromise “Doesn’t change the status quo” when asked about this on Meet the Press.

The CBO estimates the bill will reduce the deficit by $132 billion* over the next decade and by $1.3 trillion over the next two decades. It will cost $871 billion over 10 years. This is an increase over the $848 billion estimated for the original bill that was brought before the Senate.

*This has been corrected from the original.

79 Responses so far.

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  1. Chernynkaya says:

    Sorry-- nevermind-- back to the dweeb way.

    This first one, from Alternet,

    • choicelady says:

      I had the pleasure of having dinner with Trumka once. He is amazing, delightful, and smart as all get out. I’m honored to think we’re in the same place on this.

  2. Chernynkaya says:

    Two more interesting takes on the process. (And please bear with me as I try the new linking jazz.)

    This first one, from Alternet, “Why Health Care ‘Deform’ Might Help Elect a Few Real Progressives” starts out whiny but gets somewhere with some new and unusual poll results. a/http://newstrust.net/stories/525015/toolbar

    Another is Richard Trumka-- head of the AFL/CIO who echoes something ChoiceLAdy states, that the bill will chnage one in committee. Here’s the link /ahttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/17/trumka-senate-bill-as-is_n_396542.html

    THIS IS MY FIRST ATTEMPT! If I flail, I’ll re-post.

  3. choicelady says:

    Honest, folks -- the Senate could put in a bill that says, SB XXX -- everything is hunky dory with our current system, and no change is needed, and they would STILL have to deal with HR 3962 from the House. The Conference Committee appointees are all liberal save for Baucus who’s laboring under his girlfriend scandal, and I think what will emerge will be good -- far better than the Senate bill. Then the gloves come off, what Matt Taibi (Rolling Stone) calls the “rubber hoses” come out, and Reid and Obama lay it on the line. Move this to the floor, end filibuster, or you will lose chairmanships, committee appointments, and every DIME of federal money for your state.

    Since you can threaten this only ONCE, that would be the time!

    When it goes into conference committee, that IS when our work begins.

    Be stouthearted -- this is NOT over just because the Senate bill sucks (a technical term, you understand…)

  4. KarateKid says:

    The two things I have ALWAYS been against remain in this bill. I said this during the debate, and I’ve said this numerous times in comments.

    First is the mandate. Never before in our history has a government FORCED us to buy something from a private, for profit industry. And to top off their Christmas cheer for the insurance industry, the IRS will become their collection agency.

    Second is the anti-women aspect, both in the House bill and now, thanks to Nelson, the Senate. Women have fought long and hard for equality, and the Pro Lifers would love nothing more than to hack away at their gains from Roe v. Wade a little at a time. These crazies bomb clinics, murder doctors and will stop at nothing to overturn it. ANY small gain is unacceptable.

    A friend of mine said this: On a monthly basis, I choose between food, housing and health insurance. Now, with the health insurance about to be taken away, I now will have to choose between food and housing.

    People don’t have health insurance for two main reasons: 1. They can’t afford it, and 2. The have a pre-existing condition. I daresay most fit into category one. But God forbid someone in category two, also. Wait until they HAVE to buy insurance with very expensive rates, up to three times what the average person pays.

    I don’t know about you all, but I cannot afford to use 17-30% of my income for health insurance; I don’t make enough. And I don’t have any credit card or any other debt other than monthly living expenses.

    It will be ironic, but I raged at this site earlier at the Stupak Amendment. Now, I find myself rooting for him to succeed in killing this bill. The House passed their bill by a scant two votes; the Senate will pass it with no room to spare. I hope someone crosses the line. While I want to have people be able to get health care, I don’t want to be FORCED to get it.

    • choicelady says:

      I totally agree -- our progressive faith organization is absolutely, 100% against a mandate in the private market. That is sheer evil! But I bet the public option comes back in Conference Committee, and survives because of the outrage we all have expressed. Never doubt your power! Voices outweigh even money on Capitol Hill. Seen it before on big issues -- people CAN take back America.

    • bitohistory says:

      KK, Where did you get the figure 17- 30% of your adjusted income for HC insurance?

  5. Scheherazade says:

    This one is particularly disgusting to me.

    From Think Progress:

    Sen. Coburn:

    • choicelady says:

      You have NO idea how much those of us in the progressive or even mainstream faith communities are SICK TO DEATH of these people praying for the demise of health reform. I hardly have a pipeline to God, but honestly do they REALLY believe that if God hears people’s prayers, God would hear THOSE prayers? This is disgusting, it certainly does not comport with anything remotely “Christian” as I understand theology and history, and they are just sick puppies to want more people to die for lack of care. I can’t find one single source in the Bible or any other theological writing that says God loves the insurance companies. Just CANNOT FIND THAT!

    • KarateKid says:

      He’s referring to Byrd, who can barely attend sessions during the day.

  6. bitohistory says:

    All right, after many days of reading posts, columns, comments and musings about everything that is terrible about his bill. “Woulda, shoulda, coulda….”
    Someone out here, list me 8 main points that will pass this Congress and that would improve the the state of our Health Care.

    • Scheherazade says:

      I know this isn’t what you asked for, but I thought I would offer it to you just the same. I’m sorry it falls short. 😐

      Why I Still Believe in This Bill

      As weak as it is in numerous areas, the Senate bill contains three vital reforms. First, it creates a new framework, the

      • choicelady says:

        I’ll give it a shot. I think the Conference Committee will include:

        1. A public option will be restored. Public outcry will make this work. Party discipline will get the vote. You cannot morally have a mandate without this. Bet it gets implemented before 2014, too.

        2. IMMEDIATE coverage for those with chronic or life-threatening problems who’ve been uninsured 6 or more months. This is IN the Senate bill, BTW.

        3. Roll over of SCHIP (subsidized coverage for kids) into an equally affordable program that will NOT have to be renewed every 5 years. (House bill)

        4. Abolition of the exemption of insurance corporations from anti-trust regulation. (EVeryone)

        5. A clamp-down on rates of the private insurance companies with respect to “risk rates” (age, sex, etc.) that will lower the disparities between people. Even if we older folks pay twice what younger ones do, I now pay 450% more, so that would help! (Version of the Senate bill.)

        6. Abolition of the rake-off in Medicare to private intermediaries that do nothing we could not do for ourselves in picking the Medicare Advantage Plan B companies. Money saved will be directed to higher provider reimbursement rates. Some doctors are no longer able to afford to take many Medicare patients -- thanks, W, for screwing us over this way.

        7. Close the damned doughnut hole in Part D. (both bills, last I knew.)

        8. Allow legal immigrants to be enrolled immediately and undocumented immigrants to buy privately in the exchange. Good for us all to keep people healthy. (The purchase arrangement is in the House bill -- don’t know if the 5 year wait was eliminated in the Manger’s Amendments or not but it must be done.)

        9. Much more money to rural areas, to community clinics so that even the newly insured via the public option, actually have somewhere to GO. (Both bills last I read.)

        10. Payments to your doc so you can have “end of life” discussions before the end of your life! Advanced directives too often are made with no conversation with your doc -- and that can lead to misunderstandings. We need to pay docs for these conversations. (If it was taken out, put it back -- it was once in both bills.)

        11. Medicare will bargain for drug rates and allow the importation of FDA-approved cheaper drugs from Canada. (Can’t recall which bill or bills, but they are still discussing it in blogs, so…)

        12.Raise the Medicaid coverage to at least 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (no significant costs to the insured) and maybe 150%. Take away states’ ability to change the eligibility level, and give the states more money for coverage. (The two houses differ on the eligibility ceiling, but they both say this. I hope for 150%.)


        Five minutes after the health bill passes and is signed into law, we will move on PhRMA and knock out their non-competitive stance on ALL federal (and maybe even state) negotiations on costs. (Obama SAID some many moths ago that while this was not in any bill now, nothing at all stopped Congress and us from pursuing this after health care reform was done. Hardly anyone noticed he’d said that, but I heard it, and I believe it can happen.)

        So -- does that help? I think these 12 things are secure. PhRMA is another fight, but I think the drug corporation monopoly and price gouging days are OVER.

      • KarateKid says:

        ….but not until 2014, and at what cost? There’s no opt out option, either.

  7. nellie says:

    This has been getting a lot of circulation, but I thought it was worth posting here:

    And this from Ezra Klein:
    Still time to think small

    He gives this link to the senate bill and its amendments.

    • Scheherazade says:

      I was really moved by it. It honestly brought me to tears.

      Thank you so much for that last link! It’s got a PDF of Manager’s Amendment. I’ve been wanting to find a PDF of it. I find them much easier to read rather than scrolling through an online version. I didn’t even think to look there for it. That’s a huge help in trying to study it closer. Awesome!

      Thank you so much nellie. :) You made my day.

  8. Scheherazade says:

    From The Nation:

    “Health Care Reform is Not Reform if it Denies Women Coverage”

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continued his health-care-by-the-holidays rush Saturday, and he was having some tactical success.

    But Reid and the Democrats weren’t winning any friends among the broad base of voters who support reproductive rights.

    In order to secure the critical 60th vote needed to advance the compromise legislation he wants to see the Senate pass before Christmas, Reid agreed to amend the legislation to include severe restrictions on access to basic health care for women.

    That concession brought Senator Ben Nelson, a socially-conservative Democrat who is closely aligned with the health-insurance industry, on board — meaning that Reid should have the 60-member Democratic caucus united in time for critical votes that begin early Monday morning.

    If all Democrats vote for the bill that Reid finally finished reworking on Saturday, it will clear any hurdles erected by the 40-member Republican minority.

    To get Nelson’s vote, Reid had to agree to restrict the availability of abortions in insurance sold in newly created exchanges.
    “I know this is hard for some of my colleagues to accept and I appreciate their right to disagree,” Nelson said of the anti-choice language. “But I would not have voted for this bill without these provisions.”
    The question now is whether supporters of abortion rights can — or should — back a bill that not only disrespects but disregards a woman’s right to choose.

    …continued at The Nation

  9. Chernynkaya says:

    Abbreviated from Health Care for America Now:

    Here’s what must be fixed:

    1. Make health care affordable

    The Senate bill does not make health care affordable at work, and would encourage employers to hire part-time workers and offer bare-bones benefits. We need the final legislation to do what the House bill does -- require all but the smallest employers to contribute a fair amount to good coverage for their workers.

    And for those people who are self-employed or in between jobs, both bills need improvement on affordability. The Senate bill doesn’t do enough to make coverage affordable for low-and-moderate income families and the House falls short for middle-income families. The final bill should combine the best of both.

    2. Hold insurance companies accountable

    The final bill must include strong consumer protections and insurance regulations for all consumers, and give the federal government responsibility for running the new insurance marketplaces. Generally, the House bill is better, but we need Congress to pick the strongest provisions from both bills to be sure that everyone with insurance benefits from strong consumer protections.

    The final bill should also give us the choice of a national public health insurance option that’s available on day one.

    3. Fairly finance health care reform

    The Senate bill taxes the health care benefits of millions of workers to pay for health reform. There’s a better way to pay for health reform that won’t raise premiums and out of pocket costs. By contrast, the House bill asks those who can most afford to pay their fair share to finance reform, as President Obama promised during his campaign.

    The final bill should ask the richest to pay their fair share for reform, instead of taxing our health care benefits.

    What’s next?

    The reason that conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson and Independent Joe Lieberman have been able to hold the bill hostage to their demands is that Republicans have insisted on filibustering the bill every step of the way, requiring all 60 Senators who are part of the Democratic caucus to agree. That will continue this week, with the next 60-vote motion happening on Monday and perhaps two more 60-votes motions occurring during the week.

    After the Senate passes their health care bill, it will head into “conference” with the House bill.

    Conference is an opportunity to stand up for the three priorities listed above. The legislation that comes out of the conference will be sent to both houses of Congress for a final vote, and will require a majority in the House and 60 votes one more time in the Senate.

    What can be done?

    Let your Senators, member of Congress and President Obama hear from you.

    It’s been a tough week for health care reformers, there’s no question. But we need to get ready, because it’s not over yet.

    As President Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty.” This last week has been painful and difficult, and there’s a lot of effort ahead. We’ll all be taking this time over the holidays to recharge for the coming fight.

    As long as you’re fighting with us, we’ve got a chance to win this thing and finish reform right.

    • Scheherazade says:

      I’ve been bugging Reid’s office about this for weeks. I would contact my own senators, but they are GOP obstructionists: Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback. 😐 My district’s Congressman isn’t any better either -- Todd Tiahrt.

      I’m a little blue island amidst a sea of red. 😛

      btw -- Cher, you really are inspiring. :) Your posts do wonders for me.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Same here, Sweetheart, same here. Oh, and BTW, I posted earlier how to contact reps that are not your own.

        In the far right (bad terminology!) column, under authors, find my name. Click it and you’ll see something with the word “NOW” in the title-- I can’t remember what it’s titled. That gives an easy, foolproof way to contact all Senators and House members, even if you are not a constituent.

        And thank you, again, for your kind words.

  10. Scheherazade says:

    From The Associated Press* via Yahoo News:

    Neb.’s Nelson sees backlash on health reform plan

    *The Associated Press frown upon posting their articles without permission. Thus, I’ve only given the link.

    • nellie says:

      Scher — the link wasn’t working, so I took it out of html. Hope that’s ok.

      • Scheherazade says:

        If it’s still not working then we might as well just leave the URL out. The AP is rather particular about using its articles and reporting without first obtaining permission. There may be a reason I can’t link to it. I’m not sure how that would work exactly, but there are plenty of network admins who are far smarter than I. 😉

      • Scheherazade says:

        That’s cool. 😉

        I have another URL that might do the trick.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      See, what Dean said is the big problem. There is a difference between progress and moving in the wrong direction! All movement does not equal progress. This bill is moving towards more private insurance, not towards a public option. It sets us down the wrong path, in the wrong direction.

      It is so hard to articulate this. People say it is incremental progress, that it is a first step. But you see, that first step is backwards, away from where we want to end up. As long as we further strengthen the insurance companies’ grip on our health care access, the harder it will be to reverse that later! If we had even a weak PO, we could build upon that. Now what do we build on?

      • nellie says:

        I don’t think the bill is a step backwards. I’ve been reading several articles on what the bill actually does, and it’s an improvement. There is something to build on. And that’s what a few progressive organizations are starting to do right now — prepare for the next wave of health reform and filling in where this bill leaves off. We still don’t know what the final bill will be, but even if it’s like the senate bill, it’s still better than what we have now.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          Nellie, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. :~)

          I does cover more people who desperately need help. It probably helps reduce the deficit. Those are improvements. But it also cements health care via the private sector.

          To me, it is akin to that time after WW II when Great Britain went with a National Health Care delivery system, and the US went with employer coverage of insurance. It forever made our insurance tied to employers-- and that had devastating implications.

          I believe this bill will tie us into private insurance with similar disastrous implications in the future.

          Remember when Obama said he’d prefer single payer, but because we were so far down the road with employer coverage, it was impractical to re-do our entire system? That’s what I am afraid of with this bill; that at some point, as they gouge us unbearably, instead of getting Medicare for all, a future President will say, “Yes, that would be better, but we are so far down the road with private coverage, we can’t re-do they entire system.”

          Of course, I would be very happy to be proven incorrect-- thrilled in fact. If anyone can point me to an article that disproves Howard Dean on this, please, I’m begging you, show it to us.

          • Scheherazade says:

            Cher, this is the best one I can think to offer you.

            Why I Still Believe in This Bill

            I found it to be helpful and informative. I’m not fully comfortable with the current bill either. Mind you the article does say many of the same things you’re saying, and thus it agrees with Howard Dean that this bill needs to be improved.

            Progressives have good reason to be angry. Yet we should harness our anger to fix the bill--now and every year from now. The current bills in Congress do too little to help Americans immediately; their main actions are delayed for years. If and when legislation passes, progressives should demand immediate concrete actions to make the promise of a reform a reality more quickly and more effectively.

            So a bill must pass. Yet it must be a better bill that passes. And it must be understood by the President, the Congress and every American as only a step--an important but ultimately incomplete step--toward the vital goal that the campaign for the public option embodied: good affordable health care for every American.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              Scher, that article expresses my feelings exactly. It does not allay my all my fears, but it does offer some hope that my worst fears have a slim chance of being eliminated. Thank you!

  11. Scheherazade says:

    From CNN’s political ticker:

    Axelrod: ‘We’re on the one yard line’
    Obama adviser David Axelrod tells John King that his administration is on the cusp of reforming health care.

    Note: I hate it when they use sports analogies. I don’t understand them. :(

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