Thursday, January 28, 2010

How To Buy A Cup Of Coffee, But Not Health Care Reform

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Cal.) proposed a series of changes to the Senate-passed health reform bill (H.R. 3590) just as President Barack Obama urged the Congress in his 2010 State of the Union message not to “walk away from [health care] reform.  Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. Let's get it done.”

News reports indicate that Ms. Pelosi has suggested several options for passing health reform legislation, including one that consists of the House adopting the bill passed by the Senate and then modifying the bill through the reconciliation process. Modifications wanted by the House include eliminating or reducing the Senate bill’s tax on high-end insurance plans and increasing Medicare drug coverage by eliminating an existing gap in coverage called the doughnut hole. Passing H.R. 3590 in the House would require a simple majority vote, and any changes done through the reconciliation process also would require a simple majority for passage in the House and the Senate.

In his State of the Union address on January 27, Mr. Obama said, “After nearly a century of trying -- Democratic administrations, Republican administrations -- we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care….

“By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.”

All that, and $3.60 will get you a Latte at one of my favorite local coffee shops. So far, it’s unlikely to get you health reform legislation.


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