Sweeping healthcare legislation passes the House

With the support of only one Republican Congressman – America’s first Vietnamese Representative, Joseph Cao – it looks as though the House has passed significant healthcare reform legislation. Here’s a clip from the New York Times:

Handing President Obama a hard-fought victory, the House narrowly approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system on Saturday night, advancing legislation that Democrats said could stand as their defining social policy achievement.

After a daylong clash with Republicans over what has been a Democratic goal for decades, lawmakers voted 220 to 215 to approve a plan that would cost $1.1 trillion over 10 years. Democrats said the legislation would provide overdue relief to Americans struggling to buy or hold on to health insurance.

“This is our moment to revolutionize health care in this country,” said Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and one of the chief architects of the bill.

Democrats were forced to make major concessions on insurance coverage for abortions to attract the final votes to secure passage, a wrenching compromise for the numerous abortion-rights advocates in their ranks….

Mark my words… The Republicans are going to rue the day that they labeled this thing Obamacare.

And, with that, here’s footage of our own John Dingell introducing the bill on the floor of the House.

So, now it’s up to the Senate to fuck things up.

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  1. kjc
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    i’m more afraid of the day we realize this wasn’t real reform a la kucinich.

  2. Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I think it’s a step in the right direction, though.

    And I know I’ve had my difference of opinion with John Dingell in the past, but I was proud seeing him on the floor yesterday, arguing in favor of the legislation. It was cool, I think, for House leadership to make that happen.

  3. Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    The bill, in its entirety, can be found here.

    I’m skimming through right now, looking for the section on death panels. (I want to be appointed to one.)

  4. Posted November 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    And look here for a list of the Democrats in the House who voted against the bill, and the American people.

    And remember who they are the next time you find yourself voting in a Democratic primary.

  5. Jim
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I find this list especially interesting:
    I can understand the no votes from Reps whose districts voted for McCain, but I’m puzzled by the no votes by Reps from pro-Obama districts–I’d like to hear how they explain their votes.

  6. Posted November 8, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    You might try looking for the death panels in the language cutting funds for abortions. Surely, someone will be responsible for deciding whether or not a pregnant woman’s life is at risk.

  7. kjc
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    exactly, Hillary. Pretty sure one Democrat who voted against it was thinking of immigrant children and poor women.

  8. Peter Larson
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Yes, while I’m not surprised that the prohibition of federal funds to health insurance companies which provide coverage for abortions got in there, I’m not happy about it at all. Basically, this means that wealth white people will have no problem getting abortions since they have the means to pay for it straight out of the gate, whereas poor or middle class people will think twice or will not be able to get it at all since now, their insurance companies are prohibited from paying for them. While the religious right will believe that’s a good thing, it’s disingenuous to say (as they essentially have) that poor people shouldn’t get what rich people can. This was true pre Roe v. Wade and still is true in countries where the practice is illegal. Rich people have access, poor people don’t.

    Basically, these people believe that poor people don’t have the intelligence to make their own choices.

  9. Posted November 8, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I agree, Pete. There’s a distinction, though. Poor people enjoy getting abortions. Rich people don’t.

  10. Posted November 8, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    And it’s possible that this provision won’t make its way into the final legislation. I know ti’s probably unlikely, but, if the Senate bill doesn’t have a similar clause, it may be dropped in the negotiation process. If people are against it, they should let their elected representatives know.

  11. Peter Larson
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    “it’s disingenuous to say (as they essentially have) that poor people shouldn’t get what rich people can”

    Since someone is going to scream that I’m a communist, I would like to remind them that we aren’t talking about Ferrari’s or 20 bedroom houses. We are talking about a medical procedure that is not very expensive at all in the grand scheme of things. No one here would say that only people who can afford them should have cardiac bypass surgeries. And no, a cardiac bypass surgery is not always a lifesaver, nor is it always medically necessary, but still, very few people would say that only rich people should have them.

    My guess is that there is a good number of Republicans that were for the bill but voted against it knowing that it would pass. What’s good for election politics isn’t always what the Reps think.

  12. Oliva
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    . . . oh, Kucinich will be right. But still: I’m very happy for this development (not the abortion part). Big smiling kind of happy. How imperfect, though–we have a long legacy of a weird kind of misplaced arrogance/pugnaciousness that says we don’t want the government paying for our health care. Huh?! But reading old articles in the NYRB from the 1960s, that’s a stubborn theme. And I guess I believe a lot of Americans still believe that, though it doesn’t make sense.

    Instead of dreamed-of reform, a whole new system of health and wellness, single-payer, etc., if we keep at it to make sure we get a kind of health insurance reform with some unacceptable pieces, we’ll be lucky, but that’s still really good.


  13. Posted November 8, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Here’s Kucinich’s reasoning for voting No.

    “We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.

    “Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.

    “But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies — a bailout under a blue cross.

    “By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress’ blog, Think Progress, states “since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise.” Similarly, healthcare stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that “money will start flowing in again” to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. Investors.com last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy.

    “During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The “robust public option” which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.

    “Recent rises in unemployment indicate a widening separation between the finance economy and the real economy. The finance economy considers the health of Wall Street, rising corporate profits, and banks’ hoarding of cash, much of it from taxpayers, as sign of an economic recovery. However in the real economy — in which most Americans live — the recession is not over. Rising unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures are still hammering Main Street.

    “This health care bill continues the redistribution of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of America’s manufacturing and service economies which suffer from costs other countries do not have to bear, especially the cost of health care. America continues to stand out among all industrialized nations for its privatized health care system. As a result, we are less competitive in steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping while other countries subsidize their exports in these areas through socializing the cost of health care.

    “Notwithstanding the fate of H.R. 3962, America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America’s businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals.”

  14. Posted November 8, 2009 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    You also might find this article defending Kucinich by Lee Stranahan of interest.

  15. EOS
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    So what. The bill will go on the Senate shelf right next to the cap and trade bill. Abortion has nothing to do with Health care. It kills one person and destroys the other.

  16. Oliva
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    It kills one person and destroys the other.
    I heard Dr. Laura once, who said this. Never wanted to hear her again because of that willful hate tossed out to whole swaths of people she doesn’t even know over the AM radio as if she’s God’s #1 sin shouter. Bitter judgment intended to harm people’s spirits without even really pretending to be valid or insightful, just meant for any sensitive buttons, hoping to push them. Bullyish and freedom squashing for someone to presume he/she can really know another’s experience, or pretend to presume for the sake of argument and shaming.

  17. Grant
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Given your interest, you might want to check out the http://www.lastingliberty.com/ piece on the healthcare debate : Bigger Than Healthcare

  18. EOS
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Gee Oliva,
    You sound pretty judgmental. Maybe you would gain insight and empathy if you sat in on some post-abortion counseling sessions.

  19. Oliva
    Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Maybe where we’re really at as a nation, a world, is here with a chance to learn from the past and not waste time, heart, energy, mental power, etc., repeating certain obvious mistakes. Times of change are always unnerving and spur a reaction from people who desperately want to reject what they perceive as too rapid or threatening change. After slavery came Reconstruction, brutal and lasting a very long time. So much hate took root, took lives, brutalized and terrorized. That’s just one especially obvious time.

    Can the American people get courageous, learn from history, and just rise above (sorry, it’s elitest sounding, but it captures the sense of it well) the “movement” of small-minded haters who’ve lately been getting way too much attention in relation to the value they offer or produce? Michigan’s own Congresswoman Miller (Macomb Cty.) stood duncelike behind Bachmann, beside the frighting Virginia Foxx of NC, at the Tea Party event in Washington on Thursday. This state really can do so much better. This country can. I hate the thought that bipartisan ideals, and other tricks when one party isn’t playing but keeps taking the field and messing it up, are enough to keep us from just saying no to the bigotry and self-evident crap that has been mounting since Obama became president.

  20. Oliva
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    (rise . . . above . . . I think I can, I think I can)

  21. Scott K
    Posted November 9, 2009 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I thought any kind of reform Obama wanted was to cover all Americans. I read yesterday that this will cover 96%. So that leaves over 12 million people without health insurance, down from 47 million. Now what? The objective was not accomplished.

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