Health Care Passes: How it Happened and What it Means
UPDATE: The House passed health care reform. The legislative body took two votes. The first was on the already passed Senate bill. It will now go to the Presidents desk to be signed into law. The second vote was on the reconciliation bill, which is a bill of “fixes” that alters aspects of the Senate bill. It passed 220 – 211.
Democrats hail the victory as historic while Republicans say this vote will cause a loss of Democratic seats in the November midterm elections.
Thirty-three Democrats joined all Republicans in opposition. But it wasn’t enough for defeat. The Democratic leadership appeared to have the votes secured after an agreement was reached between antiabortion Democrats and the White House.
The measure is expected to save $130 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It will create 50 different exchanges, or marketplaces, for the uninsured to purchase one of four insurance plans ranging in cost and quality.
For what the bill does read directly below. To read more about politics, skip to the previous post further down.
- Families of four that make up to $88,000 would receive a combination of subsidies and tax credits to purchase insurance and health care services.
- An expansion of Medicaid the program that covers children, called SCHIP, and the program that covers the poor, Medicaid, would cover up to 40% of the newly insured.
- Individuals would be fined $700 and employers with 50 or more employees would be fined $2000 per employee for not buying insurance.
- The bill would close the infamous doughnut hole for prescription drugs for seniors. The government will pay for 75% of the cost of generic drugs and 25% for brand names.
- The bill would set up a commission to ensure that health insurance companies’ rates are reasonable to the market.
- Outlaws discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
- It prohibits undocumented immigrants from buying private health insurance. It also makes lawful immigrants wait five years before applying for Medicaid.
- It spends $11 billion for new community health centers.
- The bill is paid for by raising the Medicare tax on incomes over $250,000. It also taxes high-cost insurance plans – plans costing $27,500 a year for a family of four.
- Youth can stay on their parents insurance until they are 26.
PREVIOUS POST: The President agreed to sign an Executive Order that clarifies that no federal funds would be used for abortion. A group of antiabortion Democrats had been holding out their support until assurance was given.
Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said “an agreement has been reached.” After meeting late into the night with the White House and Democratic leadership. He said he will vote for the Senate health care reform bill and the reconciliation bill of “fixes” to the Senate bill.
The Catholic bishops had come out in opposition to health care reform because of the abortion provision. The bishops are also upset with the immigration provisions that prohibit undocumented immigrants from purchasing private health insurance, and lawful immigrants would continue to be denied access to Medicaid for five years.
With the group of antiabortion Democrats on board, it appears the Democrats have the votes to pass the legislation. Stupak said Democrats are “well past 216.” He is referring to the magic number representing a majority.
But not all Democrats are on board. Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said the bill does not do enough to reform the health care system. “We’re paying the ransom, but leaving the hostages in the hands of the health insurance companies. It’s not real reform,” Lynch said.
Meanwhile, Republicans plan to use procedural tactics to stall the floor’s proceedings. The Democrats have the votes to overcome the procedural playhouse, but the Republicans can successfully slow down and drag out the vote.
Fireworks erupted on the floor of the House. A protester in the House gallery began chanting in opposition while some Republicans cheered him on. It is illegal for spectators to protest in the House gallery. Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told reporters he had never seen lawmakers endorse such behavior. “These clowns are out there encouraging [them], in violation of the law,” Frank said.
Tea Party protesters called Rep. Frank a “faggot” Saturday as he was walking from the House office buildings to the Capitol. They also called Representatives John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver, II “nigger” as they chanted “kill the bill.”
Sunday, a couple hundred protesters have surrounded the House side of the Capitol. From the outside balcony off the House floor, dozens of Republican lawmakers took turns leading chants and holding up signs that read “kill the bill.”
The House is expected to vote on the Senate health care reform bill and then the reconciliation bill, which includes all the fixes, sometime after 8 pm Eastern Sunday.
Follow Leigh Ann Caldwell’s health care updates on Twitter.