House Unveils Healthcare Plan, Uncertain Fate Awaits in Senate

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

After President Obama came back from overseas and "persuaded" Congress to get serious about Healthcare, lawmakers in the House have gotten on the ball. They unveiled their plan today to overhaul the system. It has a lot of good things in it, but predictably awaits an uncertain fate in the "House of Lords" known as the U.S. Senate and will probably draw opposition from Corporate Democrats as well as Republicans.

The bill calls for sacrifice from business, and the wealthiest Americans and would create a government plan to compete with private insurance and drive costs down:

The sweeping measure would imposes penalties on employers who fail to provide health insurance for their workers and on individuals who refuse to buy it.

The bill, to be debated in committee beginning later this week, also would require insurance companies to offer coverage, without exceptions or higher premiums in cases of pre-existing medical conditions. It also would allow the government to sell insurance in competition with private firms, a provision that has sparked objections from Republicans and even some Democrats. n_go_co/us_health_care_overhaul

Funding would come from a new tax on the wealthiest Americans and cuts from Medicaire and Medicaid. Employers would pay a penalty for not offering coverage and uninsured Americans would be expected to get insurance when costs are driven down:

Employers who do not offer coverage would be required to pay 8 percent of each uninsured worker's salary, with exemptions for smaller firms built into the legislation.

Individuals who refused to buy affordable coverage would be assessed as much as 2.5 percent of their adjusted gross income, up to the cost of an average health insurance plan, according to the legislation.

Of course, business groups that wish to maintain the status-quo so they do not have to make any sacrifices for the good of our nation quickly rose up against it:

As House leaders unveiled their bill, the business community sent a letter to lawmakers charging that parts of the legislation would damage the country's medical system and economy. They cited the proposed government-run insurance plan, a federal council that would make some decisions on benefits and a requirement that employers provide health coverage or pay a new tax.

"Exempting some micro-businesses will not prevent this provision from killing many jobs," the letter said. "Congress should allow market forces and employer autonomy to determine what benefits employers provide, rather than deciding by fiat."

I guess when you profit hansomely from a failed system it does not seem that bad. Unfortunately the huge majority of Americans do not have the luxury.

Of course, in the "House of Lords" that has become the U.S. Senate, these ideas have an uncertain fate:

Across the Capitol, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee slogged toward passage of its version of the bill on what is expected to be a party-line vote.

Because of jurisdictional issues, the Senate Finance Committee, a separate panel, retains control over the drafting of provisions paying for any legislation.

Obama told the committee's chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, on Monday at the White House he wants legislation by week's end, officials reported. The president did not say whether he prefers a bipartisan bill, which Baucus has been trying to piece together with Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, or a bill tailored more to Democratic specifications.

In the Finance Committee some controversial issues remain unresolved, including how to pay for the bill and a Democratic demand for the government to sell insurance in competition with private industry, a proposal Republicans oppose strongly. Finance members have been laboring to produce a bipartisan bill, but Grassley, the panel's top Republican, told The Associated Press on Tuesday it's "still up in the air" whether any bill produced this week would be bipartisan.

Despite this House leaders and President Obama were encouraged by the progress:

"We are going to accomplish what many people felt wouldn't happen in our lifetime," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of one of three committees responsible for health care. Waxman, Pelosi and others stood before a banner that read: "Quality Affordable Health Care for the Middle Class."

In a statement, Obama praised the proposal, saying it "will begin the process of fixing what's broken about our health care system, reducing costs for all, building on what works and covering an estimated 97 percent of all Americans. And by emphasizing prevention and wellness, it will also help improve the quality of health care for every American."

I personally like a lot of the provisions in this bill. With the Bush tax cuts the very wealthy have been given a free ride for the last decade or so. It is time that they were expected to sacrifice. Also, businesses that do not offer benefits and pay low wages have been instrumental in causing the crisis and it is time that they took some responsibility in solving these problems.

I also think that before any mandate is pushed on the American people that we should have a public option to choose for those who private insurers have refused to cover at reasonable price. Without a public option there should be no mandate. However, once a public option is achieved and subsidies are provided to help the poorest Americans, I like that this bill calls for all Americans to be responsible and cover themselves.

If this bill is passed in it's current form, which may be highly unlikely I think it will be a serious attempt at real reform. I could support this House version and hope the Senate will follow the lead of the House.

Thoughts anyone??

Tags: Barack Obama, Blue Dog Democrats, Henry Waxman, House, Max Baucus, Nancy Pelosi, Public Option, Senate, universal healthcare (all tags)



If this is true we are in deep trouble

The Republican charge that Barack Obama is seeking a "government takeover" of US healthcare is further proof that American political rhetoric has become detached from reality. In fact, once you take away the proposed public insurance option, which Mr Obama's aides have signalled they will drop in final negotiations, the likely outcome is an affordable reform that embraces Mitt Romney's blueprint from Massachusetts and funds it with John McCain's best idea from the presidential campaign. 11de-9d42-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check =1

And you can blame the WH for all these rumors and innuendos because they have not staked a leadership position or drawn the line in the sand on this issue.
I had written a diary, where I asserted that the dirty little secret that no one is saying publicly is that the Senate and the WH are seriously considering a bill shaped around the Massachusetts health care model in the name of bipartisanship. With every day and every breaking news on this important issue it becomes less of a secret but more like common knowledge.

by tarheel74 2009-07-14 07:52PM | 0 recs
Re: If this is true we are in deep trouble

There is no practical way they can shape a bill such as you describe. That ship has passed.

by bruh3 2009-07-14 08:10PM | 0 recs
Re: If this is true we are in deep trouble

You do realize that Max Baucus is still in charge of any plan coming out of the senate. If he was stripped off his chair of the finance committee I would have shared your optimism but as of right now anything is possible given that we have one of the most corrupt senators with vested interests in the industry peddling a nonsensical health care reform in the name of bipartisanship.

by tarheel74 2009-07-14 08:22PM | 0 recs
Chris Dodd is taking more a leadership role

Max Baucus is in charge of how to pay for it.

by DTOzone 2009-07-14 10:45PM | 0 recs
Re: If this is true we are in deep trouble

Here's my view: President Obama is a politician. I look to him in part to see where the sands are shifting. There are two links I found skimming Openleft this morning.  Place them in context of Reid's threat (however weak to Baucus of get on the bus or get rolled over), the progressive block in the Senate, the strength of the House bill, etc).

Here's what is being reported as of this morning:

"In the ads, private citizens describe problems they've had with the medical system and say it's time for action. The sponsor is Organizing for America, Obama's campaign organization, which has become part of the national Democratic Party. The group would not reveal the cost.

The ads will run in Arkansas, Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska and Ohio." p-airing-TV-ad-apf-2282571733.html?x=0&a mp;.v=1

In other words, they are targetting conservative states (conservadems and "moderate republicans.") The political sands are shifting.  I am not saying we will necessarily win. I am saying that the political reality may force the administration leftward. As it is doing with the stimulus, because they are being forced now to mention the hint of a second stimulus.

The make them do it theory plus the shifting political reality theory of politics also is being born out in othere ways:

It is true that more time is needed to show results for policies that are currently in place, including stimulus spending, foreclosure relief and the bank rescue. But it is also clear that joblessness and defaults are worse now than was assumed when those policies were formed. So the need for more federal help is all but inevitable, as are political fights over renewed aid. President Obama may want to avoid those battles until health reform passes, but he still should lay the groundwork in three main areas:



BANK RESCUE n/15wed1.html?_r=1&partner=rss&e mc=rss

I see the sands shifting under his feet in other ways, including on DADT repeal amongst other issues. In other words, he will have to get out there to be in control o fthe agenda, but the agenda is shifting left, so he will have to do so as well. The times are not those in which he can reasonably try to truly push a centrist agenda.

I want his presidency to suceed. One of the reason why I am so pushy about what I believe I am seeing is that I think the administration early on did not understand where this country is in its history. How the America people are ready for a seachange. I think those pressures are coming to bare. The Reagan revolution, the politics of the last 40 years are, coming to end and are probably already dead, but DC just does not know it yet.

My position is not coming out of optimism. It is coming out of realizing political reality will force them to change with it or lose.  That's why I think the Obama apologists who get on here spouting their b.s. and the conservadems trying to push their agenda onto him are doing him no favor. They simply do not represent where this country is.

by bruh3 2009-07-15 04:46AM | 0 recs
Re: If this is true we are in deep trouble

I want to change one thing I said. I said the times re not those in which he will push a centrist agenda. This is inaccurate. He remains a centrist, but the center is shifting to the left so he must shift with it.

by bruh3 2009-07-15 04:51AM | 0 recs
Re: If this is true we are in deep trouble

I just found something else reinforce the shifting sands/make them do it theories are at play:

"President Barack Obama may rely only on Democrats to push health-care legislation through the U.S. Congress if Republican opposition doesn't yield soon, two of the president's top advisers said." 0601087&sid=a4.kYDWV9erc

The conservadems are in danger of having the bus leave them behind.

by bruh3 2009-07-15 05:35AM | 0 recs

I'd be willing to give tarheel the benefit of the doubt that maybe s/he linked the wrong article...I don't have a subscription to the New York Times, so I can't be 100% sure that's the article you blockquoted, but it sure seems authentic.

I can't believe someone would stoop so low as to blockquote a made up paragraph and then link an article that doesn't have the paragraph in it, but no one can tell because they need a subscription to read it. I mean even the worst PUMA would be stupid to do something like that.

Hopefully tarheel will straighten it out.

by DTOzone 2009-07-14 09:55PM | 0 recs
Re: I've been looking around the FT website

The correct FT link appears to be here.

by Steve M 2009-07-15 05:24AM | 0 recs
Re: I've been looking around the FT website

Thank you, this I hope is the link: 11de-b835-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check =1

BTW I don't take this kid seriously but still, thanks for standing up for me. He actually said that he went to a packed upscale restaurant in Long Island with his wealthy family and from that he came to the grand conclusion that there is no recession in the whole state of NY!! That is like Phil Gramm saying that we have a mental recession. But whatever. Thanks.

by tarheel74 2009-07-15 07:05AM | 0 recs
Re: yeah I didn't say that

Kid you need a primer in the English language. Here are two words from the first line of my comment: "rumor" and "innuendo". I was not passing it off as "news".

by tarheel74 2009-07-15 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: yeah I didn't say that

for god sake, please stop debating nfa. it's a waste of time.  

by bruh3 2009-07-15 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: House Unveils

Great reply. Scary indeed.

by RDemocrat 2009-07-14 08:01PM | 0 recs
Watching the HELP markup in the Senate today

I feel strangely good about what will come out of the Senate...there will be a fight there...but if the public option passes the House by a large margin and there is really public support pushing for it, then I can see it getting through the Senate, even if we need to do it via reconciliation.

and then, of courss, there's conference.

I would bet the odds for a public option are in over favor.

by DTOzone 2009-07-14 10:24PM | 0 recs
BTW on the House of Lords

It's funny you should say that because our founding fathers actually modeled the Senate after the House of Lords.

The Senate was meant as an internal check on the House.

James Madison described the Senate;

The use of the Senate is to consist in proceeding with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch."

John Dickinson, a Delaware Representative to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 said this;

"[The Senate] consist of the most distinguished characters, distinguished for their rank in life and their weight of property, and bearing as strong a likeness to the British House of Lords as possible."

Edmund Randolph, a Virginia delegate and the first Attorney General in Washington's cabinet said this about the purpose of the Senate;

"to restrain, if possible, the fury of democracy."

GASP! Restrain Democracy?

Yeah, our founding fathers meant for the Senate to work as it does...not that they were right, but this was their plan.

by DTOzone 2009-07-14 10:33PM | 0 recs


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