Saturday, December 19, 2009

Democrats One Step Closer To Passing Health Care

So, while the New York Times and other media outlets use headlines to make it look like Republicans could somehow manage to stop this train wreck, Democrats had to try very hard to keep everyone on board. Democrats have always had the numbers in the Senate if everyone could stay on board. If they can't pass a health care bill, it's because they couldn't get their own caucus to agree; Republicans had nothing to do with it.
If Senate Democrats could win passage of their bill, it will need to be reconciled with a version adopted last month by the House, and Mr. Nelson issued a pointed warning that he would vote against the measure if any changes were not to his liking.

Because the Democrats nominally control 60 seats in the Senate — the precise number needed to overcome Republican filibusters — every senator in the Democratic caucus effectively has veto power over the bill. No Republican is willing to support it.

The legislation, the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system in more than a generation, seeks to extend health benefits to more than 30 million uninsured Americans by expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to help moderate-income people purchase private insurance.

The bill also imposes tight new regulations of the health insurance industry, barring insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions and limiting how much extra they can charge for people based on their age.

The majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, racing against the clock to complete the bill by his self-imposed holiday deadline, introduced a 338-page package of last-minute amendments, including the key provisions needed to win Mr. Nelson’s support.

Republicans, who vowed to use every procedural weapon to stop the bill, immediately forced a reading of the Mr. Reid’s, which was expected to take 10 hours and had to be done by midnight to keep Democrats on track for a final vote on Christmas Eve.

Mr. Reid’s amendment includes tighter restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions sought by Mr. Nelson. Health insurance plans would not be required or forbidden to cover abortions, but states could prohibit the coverage of abortions by plans that are offered for sale through new government-regulated marketplaces.
Republican efforts to slow down the passage were just that, only an effort to slow things down. They can't stop it.

Once again, the Democrats are pushing self-imposed deadlines that thwart a serious reading of the legislation and a recognition that passage of the legislation before the Christmas break means that the Democrats wont have to try and convince an already skeptical public; it will be a fait accomplis.

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