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Health Care Bill PASSES

HuffPost- First Posted: 03-21-10 10:59 PM   |   Updated: 03-22-10 09:12 AM

With additional reporting by Sam Stein.

After more than a year of virulent debate, Democrats marched through a throng of jeering protesters, whose slurs recalled a Washington of the 1960s — when the party forced civil rights legislation and Medicare through a fiercely divided Congress. Against unified Republican opposition, they built on that foundation Sunday with the passage of a health care reform bill that extends coverage to 32 million Americans and tightly regulates the insurance industry.

“It is with great humility and with great pride that we tonight will make history for our country and progress for the American people,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) before the vote to a standing ovation on one side of the aisle and silence on the other. “Just think–we will be joining those who established Social Security, Medicare, and now tonight, health care for all Americans.”

Democrats passed two pieces of legislation. The first, a comprehensive reform package passed at the end of December by the Senate, now goes to President Obama for his signature, passing the House 219-212. The second piece, passed through the reconciliation process by a 220-211, makes fixes to that measure and now heads to the Senate for a final vote.

Watch yesterday’s health care debate condensed into 10 minutes:

VIDEO AND MORE HERE

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As soon as health care passes, the American people will see immediate benefits. The legislation will:

  • Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
  • Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
  • Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;
  • Lower seniors’ prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;
  • Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
  • Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;
  • Require plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
  • Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
  • Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
  • Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.

By enacting these provisions right away, and others over time, we will be able to lower costs for everyone and give all Americans and small businesses more control over their health care choices.

Crossposted on the House Democrat’s blog.

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Miles Mogulescu | Huff Post | March 16, 2010

For months I’ve been reporting in The Huffington Post that President Obama made a backroom deal last summer with the for-profit hospital lobby that he would make sure there would be no national public option in the final health reform legislation. (See here, here and here). I’ve been increasingly frustrated that except for an initial story last August in the New York Times, no major media outlet has picked up this important story and investigated further.

Hopefully, that’s changing. On Monday, Ed Shultz interviewed New York Times Washington reporter David Kirkpatrick on his MSNBC TV show, and Kirkpatrick confirmed the existence of the deal. Shultz quoted Chip Kahn, chief lobbyist for the for-profit hospital industry on Kahn’s confidence that the White House would honor the no public option deal, and Kirkpatrick responded:

“That’s a lobbyist for the hospital industry and he’s talking about the hospital industry’s specific deal with the White House and the Senate Finance Committee and, yeah, I think the hospital industry’s got a deal here. There really were only two deals, meaning quid pro quo handshake deals on both sides, one with the hospitals and the other with the drug industry. And I think what you’re interested in is that in the background of these deals was the presumption, shared on behalf of the lobbyists on the one side and the White House on the other, that the public option was not going to be in the final product.”

Kirkpatrick also acknowledged that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina had confirmed the existence of the deal to him.

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We’ve all heard of “shotgun weddings,” but here in the USofA, our first-rate, employment-based private insurance system has led to a whole new form of marriage-the “stethoscope” wedding.

The writer of this CNN article lays out why she found herself becoming a “Mrs.” I will say that this is indeed an act of love, and I will personally vouch that it isn’t an unusual catalyst; my own worries about a red-headed girl’s health was a factor in my own mind for moving up our wedding date (and I’ve never told her that, and I expect you to STFU as well 🙂 ) In my own case, I’d definitely have done it anyway, but I have to wonder…. how many people are doing this PRIMARILY because our system sucks so bad? How many of them will wind up divorced later?

And isn’t it a damned obscenity that gay people cannot do this for a loved one in most states?

I’d never been one of those girls who’d dreamt about her perfect wedding. The white wedding dress, the exorbitant costs, the fuss over a big, shiny rock — none of it ever appealed to me.

I wanted to find a lifelong partner, and a family sounded nice, too, but honestly? I never cared much about that piece of paper.

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President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., spoke at the White House after Senate voted on the health care bill on Thursday. - Luke Sharrett/The New York Times

ROBERT PEAR | NYT | December 24, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted Thursday to reinvent the nation’s health care system, passing a bill to guarantee access to health insurance for tens of millions of Americans and to rein in health costs as proposed by President Obama.

The 60-to-39 party-line vote, on the 25th straight day of debate on the legislation, brings Democrats a step closer to a goal they have pursued for decades. It clears the way for negotiations with the House, which passed a broadly similar bill last month by a vote of 220 to 215.

If the two chambers can strike a deal, as seems likely, the resulting product would vastly expand the role and responsibilities of the federal government. It would, as lawmakers said repeatedly in the debate, touch the lives of nearly all Americans.

The bill would require most Americans to have health insurance, would add 15 million people to the Medicaid rolls and would subsidize private coverage for low- and middle-income people, at a cost to the government of $871 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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Joe Lieberman is afraid to debate Rachel Maddow on health reform.

Think Progress- By Faiz Shakir at 10:40 am

For the past couple of nights on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow has skewered Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) for his stated willingness to filibuster health reform. Decrying his “demonstrably and obviously untrue arguments” about the public option, Maddow told her audience last night that Lieberman could end up being “the reason we won’t get health reform if we don’t get health reform.” For his part, Lieberman appears afraid of defending his views to Maddow’s face. Last night, Maddow reported:

I also want to tell our viewers that we invited Senator Lieberman to come onto this show tonight. His office did not even bother to respond to our requests.

Senator Lieberman, you should know you have an open invitation — as you long have had — to come on this show. I promise you will get a fair shake. Actually, at this point, I promise to not only buy you a shake, I will buy you a cookie if you come on this show.

Watch it:

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Keith Olbermann To Deliver Hour-Long “Special Comment” On Health Care

First Posted: 10- 6-09 12:21 PM   |   Updated: 10- 6-09 12:29 PM

Keith Olbermann will deliver an hour-long “Special Comment” on health care Wednesday night, MSNBC announced Tuesday.

Wednesday’s “Countdown” will be devoted entirely to “Health Care Reform: The Fight Against Death.” According to a network release, it will focus on “the need for and meaning of health care reform in the United States” and Olbermann will “propose group action by patients, and how patients can reclaim the debate over health care reform.”

Olbermann has, thus far, delivered two “Special Comments” related to health care reform: one, on August 3, slamming members of congress for being in the pocket of the health care lobby; and another on August 10, calling Sarah Palin’s “death panel” claims “dangerously irresponsible.”

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There’s one positive political aspect to this epic fight for health care reform. We now know for sure which congressional Democrats have to be vigorously challenged and defeated the next time they come up for re-election.

The health care reform debate has forced the toxic slag to gurgle to the surface and consequently revealed a few Democratic senators who, at every turn in this process, have proved to be far more interested in protecting their own asses by way of protecting the asses of their bosses in the health care mafia.

Suffice to say, Joe Lieberman has to be sending lots of “thank you” gift baskets and ponies and backrubs to the offices of Max Baucus and Kent Conrad. In fact, Baucus and Conrad — the matchstick men of health care reform — have been so insufferable, I almost forgot about Lieberman. Almost.

In fact, apart from the Republicans from whom we expected outlandish lies and cartoonish behavior, Baucus and Conrad have been much more obstructionist and damaging to real health care reform, chiefly because they possess a disproportionate level of power in relation to the nine people in the upper Midwest they represent, and because their ideas would be laughable if they weren’t so ineffectual and dangerous.

To wit: Baucus Plan is just as craptastical as we all suspected it might be.

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Elephant in the room: Race also present in rebuke of Wilson

By William Douglas | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — In their effort to admonish Rep. Joe Wilson, both white and black lawmakers in the House of Representatives voiced deep concern over a string of what they think are racially motivated attacks on the nation’s first black president.

“There’s no question that if you look at some of the actions and comments being made, there’s a fringe element that has staked out a racial position towards African-Americans that never has been open for public display” until now, said Rep. Henry Johnson, D-Ga., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Wilson “didn’t help the cause of diversity and balance with his remarks.”

The 240 to 179 vote Tuesday, largely along party lines, formally reprimanded Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, for shouting “You lie!” to President Barack Obama during his address last week to a joint session of Congress.

Wilson and the House GOP leadership protested, saying the measure was a diversionary tactic designed to deflect attention from the health care debate.

“It’s clear to the American people that there are far more important issues facing the nation,” Wilson said in his defense.

However, some Black Caucus members said that Wilson’s outburst is but the latest in a long string of ugly events rooted in racism, such as last week’s flap over Obama addressing the nation’s schoolchildren, protesters showing up outside Obama events carrying licensed firearms, and “birthers” questioning Obama’s citizenship. Black Caucus members say such incidents are designed to disrespect the office of the president now that a black man holds it.

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Attention politicians and traditional media people. Important announcement.

Is everyone with me? Chuck Todd: stop applying your beard rouge and pay attention. Bartiromo: leave the cork on the fork.

Okay, here we go.

The public health insurance option as defined in both the Senate HELP bill and the House bill (HR 3200) is not a far-left liberal proposal. A far-left liberal proposal would actually be a single-payer plan. The public option is actually a program supported by almost everyone, despite the misleading way it’s currently being discussed by Republicans, town hall wingnuts, cable news “smackdown” panelists and other very serious members of the Washington establishment.

To wit, David Brooks’ column the other day urged the president to reconnect with “the center” on issues like healthcare reform, and to also exercise more “fiscal restraint.” Naturally, Brooks isn’t prescribing this approach in a vacuum. It’s all over Washington, including within certain corridors at the White House.

And it only takes a few minutes of cable news viewing to arrive at the assumption that the “centrist” position on healthcare reform, according to Brooks and other establishment people, is a bill without a public option. The health insurance lobby in collusion with both the corrupt and spineless Blue Dogs and the lying hacks who control the cartoonish Republican Party have successfully convinced large chunks of Washington that the public option is some sort of ultra-left concoction manufactured inside the secret underground Wellstone Memorial Lib-ratory located beneath Howard Dean’s cavernous walk-in Birkenstock closet.

The reality, however, is that a healthcare reform bill with a robust public option is both extraordinarily popular and fiscally responsible, while, on the other hand, the kind of “centrist” bill that David Brooks wants is actually more expensive and generally more corrupt. In other words, a bill without the public option can hardly be called “centrist” by any definition of the term.

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