The House of Representatives could vote on comprehensive health care
reform this Saturday, a crucial step in the long and difficult journey
toward health care legislation. Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicts
Democrats will successfully secure votes for passing the bill, which has been endorsed by AARP
and includes the much-debated public option. If it passes, the Senate will still have to pass a bill and the two will then have to be merged.
- The Best Plan The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn argues
the House bill is the best version produced by Congress. "Like the
bills that passed three House committees in the summer,
this one will cover more people--and provide them with more
protection--than the emerging counterpart in the Senate," he writes.
"House lawmakers managed to assemble their proposals in a way that
should, by CBO's estimation, reduce deficits (albeit quite modestly)
over the long term. In terms of cost, that should really be the
takeaway point: That it
pays for itself and, in the long run, actually starts to reduce federal
- Senior-Friendly, Good Politics The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson praises
the bill's provisions to reduce costs for seniors. "The House bill is
not only better public policy than the Senate's, it
is also better Democratic politics. Seniors always constitute a
disproportionate share of midterm electorates, and Democrats concerned
about next year's congressional contests would do themselves a major
favor by passing a bill that reduced the costs of seniors'
medications," he writes. "When the two bills go to conference, the
conferees should note that the
House version not only bends the nation's cost curve downward but tilts
the Democrats' electoral prospects upward."
- Needs Cadillac Tax Ezra Klein insists
the Senate bill's funding mechanism, which would focus on taxing
so-called "Cadillac plans," is still better. "The Senate pays for
health-care reform by slapping a surtax on
high-value plans offered by employers. Economists almost universally
believe that such a tax will do quite a bit to control costs and
increase wages, both of which are overriding priorities," he writes.
"That said, the Senate's excise tax is too small to fund health-care
reform, and it's likely to get smaller. So I'd like to see some of the
House funding mechanisms blended into the bill to increase the total
- Tough on Big PhRMA Jonathan Cohn cheers
the House for not joining a deal between the Senate reformers and the
pharmaceutical industry. "PhRMA vowed to endorse reform and advertise
on its behalf. Baucus
and the administration, in turn, promised not to extract more than
about $80 billion in savings from changes that would affect
It was nothing short of a shakedown," he writes. "The House, though,
was not party to this deal. And so it's decided to ask a little
more--about twice as much, in fact."
- But Great for Medical Device Lobby The New Republic's Suzy Khimm reports
on an unusual concession. "The House bill cuts the $40 billion tax on
the device industry that’s in the Senate Finance Committee down to $20
million," she writes. "The tax reduction is an unequivocal victory for
the device industry’s intensive lobbying campaign,
which led a legion of prominent Democratic legislators to protest the
tax for putting a damper on the industry in their home states."
- Ten Reasons To Love It Health care blogger Anthony Wright lists ten reasons
he loves the House bill. These include, "The biggest expansion of
Medicaid since its creation 40 years ago, completing an unfulfilled
commitment for millions in and near poverty," and, "New consumer
protections: New rules & oversight on
insurers that include the abolition of underwriting and 'pre-existing
conditions,' minimum benefit standards, limits on age-based rates and
on premiums dollars going to administration and profit." Wright beams,
"But we should look at this bill in its totality, and appreciate how
signficant it is, and how much help it would provide if it passes."
- Rush May Preclude Amendments The Washington Independent's Mike Lillis points out
the rush to secure a vote could mean Pelosi wouldn't allow the bill to
be amended. "It remains unclear whether Democratic leaders will allow
lawmakers to offer amendments on the chamber floor. Speaker Nancy
Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday morning that
she hasn’t reached any conclusions. 'We may not have any amendments,'
she said. 'That decision has not been made.'
She’s running out of time."
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