60 Votes Reached for Health Bill
None were Republican Votes
THIS MORNING, the Democrats finally hobbled together the 60 votes needed to stop a Republican filibuster.
The Senate’s health bill can now collide with the House’s bill as representatives from both legislative bodies, along with those from the Executive branch can jawbone and arm wrestle till a final bill gets passed to the president for, presumably, signature. And then this fine nation will have a new health care system of sorts.
Does it matter?
Yes, it mattes a great deal, but in a muddy way. If you want a European-type health care system, it matters that you’re not getting one (far from it). If you wanted things to stay as they are, you might be less frustrated than your Euro-inclined counterpart (unless you dance to the drumbeat of the Republican leadership who basically pronounce this bill to be the beginning of the end for America), because the current system has been more tweaked than overhauled.
As the Associated Press summarizes:
“At its core, the measure is designed to spread coverage to tens of millions who lack it, while banning insurance company practices such as denial of coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions. The White House also wants the legislation that eventually makes it through Congress to slow the rate of growth in national medical spending overall. The House passed its version of the legislation last month, and final compromise talks are expected quickly.”
- Extends health benefits to more than 30 million uninsured Americans by expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to help moderate-income people purchase private insurance.
- The Congressional Budget Office estimated the revised measure would lower deficits by $132 billion over a decade, with the possibility of much higher reductions in the subsequent decade.
- Forecasters said the bill would expand coverage to roughly 94% of eligible Americans under age 65, a total that excludes illegal immigrants.
- The Medicare payroll tax of 0.9 percent on income over $200,000 a year for individuals and $250,000 for couples.
- Insurance companies are required to spend 80% of their premium income on medical care for individual insurance policies, and 85% for group policies.
- Insurance companies would be barred immediately from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing health condition. The prohibition on denial of coverage for adults would not take effect in the Senate bill until 2014.
- On abortion, the measure would let a state disallow coverage in new insurance exchanges by passing a law to that effect. Additionally, it sets up a mechanism to segregate funds that would be used to pay for abortions from federal subsidy dollars flowing to health plans.
You can read more about it in the Associated Press article I referenced above.
Remember: It’s not over — both houses of congress will soon begin mud wrestling over the particulars, with president Obama presiding as an arms-length referee, dodging the mud flakes.