Sunday, November 8, 2009

Editorial: Health Care Reform - Not Perfect, But…

Tom070108-2 The bill that passed the House of Representatives yesterday was not the bill I wanted.  I’m for single payer.  I have no doubt that some of my more radical friends will oppose this bill.  I can respect their reasons for doing so and probably agree with most.  But, in my opinion, it offers enough positive change to be a viable first step in the direction of reform.

I expected a long, contentious day in the House, but the behavior of the Republican Representatives when the Women’s Caucus took the floor was so reprehensible that it disgusted me.  I found video of what I watched on C-SPAN at Think Progress.


I’ve never seen anything like that on the House floor.  Shame!

Before the main bill came to the floor, the House voted on the Stupak-Pitts amendment.  It passed.  It is, in my opinion, the biggest flaw in the bill.  In a nut shell, it forces any woman who purchases insurance through the exchange the bill provides to pay for an abortion out of her own pocket, even if she purchases her coverage with no government subsidy.  To set the record straight, I think abortion is wrong.  However, I recognize that situations exist under which the available options do not include any right choices, and sometimes abortion is the least wrong of the options.  I also recognize that my personal view of right and wrong gives me the right to choose not to have an abortion.  I suspect that I shall never do so.  It does not, however, give me the right to impose my belief into a decision between a woman and her doctor.   I expect that Stupak-Pitts will not survive the conference committee and fully support its removal there.

The following Democrats joined the GOP in supporting Stupak-Pitts.

Jason Altmire, Joe Baca, John Barrow, Marion Berry, Sanford Bishop, John Boccieri, Dan Boren, Bobby Bright, Dennis Cardoza, Chris Carney, Ben Chandler, Travis Childers, Jim Cooper, Jim Costa, Jerry Costello, Henry Cuellar, Kathy Dahlkemper, Lincoln Davis, Artur Davis, Joe Donnelly, Mike Doyle, Steve Driehaus, Brad Ellsworth, Bob Etheridge, Bart Gordon, Parker Griffith, Baron Hill, Tim Holden, Paul Kanjorski, Marcy Kaptur, Dale Kildee, James Langevin, Daniel Lipinski, Stephen Lynch, Jim Marshall, Jim Matheson, Mike McIntyre, Charles Melancon, Michael Michaud, Alan Mollohan, John Murtha, Richard Neal, James Oberstar, David Obey, Solomon Ortiz, Tom Perriello, Collin Peterson, Earl Pomeroy, Nick Rahall, Silvestre Reyes, Ciro Rodriguez, Mike Ross, Tim Ryan, John Salazar, Heath Shuler, Ike Skelton, Vic Snyder, Zachary Space, John Spratt, Bart Stupak, John Tanner, Gene Taylor, Harry Teague, Charles Wilson

If one of these belongs to you, you know what to do.

Next on the agenda came the GOP substitution, which I have dubbed the Boner Bill.  Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio debunked it beautifully, and I found video of him doing so at Crooks and Liars.


I’m pleased to report that not a single Democrat voted for this GOP fraud.

Finally the final vote came in 220-215 in favor.

health-insurance In an historic vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, a health-care reform bill containing a public health-insurance plan passed the chamber by a vote of 220-215. One Republican, Joseph Cao of Louisiana, voted with the Democrats, while 39 Democrats, including Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich, voted against H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Both of the Democrats who won special elections last week, Bill Owens of New York's 23rd district, and John Garamendi of California's 10th voted for the bill.

As the time allotted for voting drew to a close, Democrats, shouting in unison, counted down the final seconds like it was New Year's Eve. Speaker Nancy Pelosi smiled broadly as she pounded the gavel and announced the result.

At a meeting with reporters following the bill's passage, Pelosi called up Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, the upper chamber's long-time champion of health-care reform. "My dad was a senator," Kennedy said, "but tonight his spirit was in the House."

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., also played an historically symbolic role in today's vote, gaveling the start of the proceedings.  Like his father before him, who was also a congressman, Dingell has introduced a health-care reform bill every year of his 54-year career in the House, and gaveled to order the 1964 proceedings for the passage of Medicare.

The bill passed today in the House includes a public health-insurance plan that is one of a number of plans -- the rest offered by private and non-profit insurers -- that consumers will be able to purchase on an insurance exchange, which has been described as a sort of shopping mall of insurance policies. Lower-income citizens will be eligible for federally-financed subsidies of premiums. All Americans will be required to carry a minimum level of health insurance or face a tax penalty. Individuals earning more than $500,000 annually, and couples who earn more than $1 million per year, will face an additional tax to help finance the health-care plan.

Included in the legislation are protections against exclusion from coverage for pre-existing conditions and a prohibition on rescissions that have seen people suddenly dropped from coverage because they failed to disclose a minor condition such as acne. Women will be protected from elimination of coverage for gender-specific conditions. Young adults will be able to remain on the parents' policies until their 27th birthdays, and several discriminatory practices against LGBT people will be prohibited.

(For more on what's in the bill and likely battles to arise in a conference committee, see 5 Key Fights We Face Against the Insurance Industry by AlterNet's Joshua Holland.)... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Alternet>

There is still a lot to like about this bill, despite its weaknesses.

In a surprise, one Republican actually refused to goose-step, Joseph Cao of LA.  Here is his statement:

Cao Of his vote, Cao said:  “Tonight, I voted to keep taxpayer dollars from funding abortion and to deliver access to affordable health care to the people of Louisiana.

Cao said:  “I read the versions of the House [health reform] bill.  I listened to the countless stories of Orleans and Jefferson Parish citizens whose health care costs are exploding – if they are able to obtain health care at all.  Louisianans needs real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children.  

The bill passed the House at a 220-215 vote.

Cao said:  “Today, I obtained a commitment from President Obama that he and I will work together to address the critical health care issues of Louisiana including the FMAP crisis and community disaster loan forgiveness, as well as issues related to Charity and Methodist Hospitals.  And, I call on my constituents to support me as I work with him on these issues.

Cao said:  “I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people.  My vote tonight was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents...

Inserted from <>

I commend him for his courage and thank him for his integrity.

On the other hand, 39 Democrats, wastes of human skin, betrayed their constituents, their party and their nation by joining the GOP in voting no.

John Adler, Jason Altmire, Brian Baird, John Barrow, John Boccieri, Dan Boren, Rick Boucher, Allen Boyd, Bobby Bright, Ben Chandler, Travis Childers, Lincoln Davis, Artur Davis, Chet Edwards, Bart Gordon, Parker Griffith, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Tim Holden, Larry Kissell, Suzanne Kosmas, Frank Kratovil, Dennis Kucinich, Betsy Markey, Jim Marshall, Eric Massa, Jim Matheson, Mike McIntyre, Michael McMahon, Charles Melancon, Walt Minnick, Scott Murphy, Glenn Nye, Collin Peterson, Mike Ross, Heath Shuler, Ike Skelton, John Tanner, Gene Taylor, Harry Teague

They are without excuse.  Remember them.

The GOP response to the vote was expected.

john-boehner Shortly after a Democrat-backed healthcare bill passed the House late Saturday night, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement denouncing the "2,032-page" bill as a "$1.3 trillion government takeover of health care."

“I came here to renew the American Dream, so my kids and their kids have the same opportunities I had. I came here to fight big-government monstrosities like this bill that dim the light of freedom and diminish opportunity for future generations," Boehner said in a statement.

“Americans want a common-sense approach to health care reform, not Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 2,032-page government takeover that increases costs, adds to our skyrocketing debt, destroys jobs with tax hikes and new mandates, and cuts seniors’ Medicare benefits," the statement added. "Americans asking ‘where are the jobs’ are getting more of the same from out-of-touch Washington Democrats: more spending, more debt, and more government...

Inserted from <Raw Story>

Isn’t he more like a broken record every day?

The extremists were out in force voicing their hatred on Faux Nation, the website of the official GOP Ministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise.  Here’s an example I found at Newshounds:


And another:


Is this disgusting or what?  These are comments that their moderators actually cleared.

Finally, I’m pleased to share Barack Obama’s statement:

Obama-Pittsburgh Tonight, in an historic vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would finally make real the promise of quality, affordable health care for the American people.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act is a piece of legislation that will provide stability and security for Americans who have insurance; quality affordable options for those who don’t; and bring down the cost of health care for families, businesses, and the government while strengthening the financial health of Medicare.  And it is legislation that is fully paid for and will reduce our long-term federal deficit.

Thanks to the hard work of the House, we are just two steps away from achieving health insurance reform in America.  Now the United States Senate must follow suit and pass its version of the legislation.  I am absolutely confident it will, and I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year.

Inserted from <Daily Kos>

From here it’s on to the Senate, and it’s time to go back to building a fire under our Senators.


the walking man said...

The obstructive fools should be twisting the hemp for medicinal purposes, control the apoplectic attitudes, instead of twisting it up and soaking it in niter for fuses.

At no time in my entire life have i had less faith in government than I do at this time. I have long thought of government as a n organism grown large and self protective but now I see its individual parts, especially in the legislature are in fact in some part a retro virus, willing to destroy the host that they might live.

Randal Graves said...

You'd get better behavior in that chamber if you replaced the goopers with any kindergarten class in America.

Holte Ender said...

The large woman is not even clearing her throat yet. Lots more rudeness, lies and rhetoric to come. My blue dog rep. was one of nay voters, hopefully we can find a real democrat willing to run against him in the primaries, although in Georgia it will be hard.

Middle Ditch said...

It's difficult for me to comment on American political posts and therefore just come by to say hi. HI!

Your voting system is interesting and so are the results.

Distributorcap said...

i have a different take - i am glad it passed - but the abortion amendment does bother me

like you i am for the single payer - the jumble we are going to end up creating in my mind will ultimately be worse - as it always is in this country - when you try to please too many people, you please none. the Dems should have shoved a bill down the throats of the republicans - just like they did for 6 years. the gop will from this point on do ANYTHING to stop EVERYTHING no matter how good or critical it might be.

the gop talks of the cost - but they never talk of the cost of these USELESS and UNNECESSARY and UNWINNABLE wars - for some reason it is ok to spend trillions on killing , but not a nickel on healing.

john boehner's dick can fall off for all i care.

my gut is this bill will end being so watered down and full of such shit to get assholes like LIeberman on board - it will be a case of be careful what you wish for

but all in all i am glad it passed

TRUTH 101 said...

Perhaps if the Democrats would have agreed to put everything on the national credit card, as republicans do with their wars and tax cuts, more republicans would have voted for the bill.

Dusty said...

When they get together to blend the House and Senate bills..they better bury that fucking Stupak amendment.

Oh and Dennis K was one of the 39. I don't consider him anything negative..he was voting his conscience..our best isn't good enough for him and thats fine w/me.

Stimpson said...

The GOP members who kept interjecting with "I object" deserve to be publically shamed in their districts. The kinds of voters who are otherwise ignorant of what their reps do between election campaigns should be informed of this behaviour. And someone should punch each one of them in the face, hard.

Stimpson said...

"... Dingell has introduced a health-care reform bill every year of his 54-year career in the House ..."

Can any Repubs say the same for themselves? Any? Cuz, you know, I've been hearing for months how they care soooo much about health care but just don't think the Dems are taking the right approach. So, where's the GOP equivalent of Dingell on health care?

I ask this strictly rhetorically, of course. I know the GOP is full of shit on health care.

RealityZone said...

TC; Great post.
I have not said much on the [health care issue in the past. I am one of the more "radical ones" LOL. I did not have high hopes on this, just as i have not had high hopes on us leaving Af/Pak. I agree with a previous comment that this will be so watered down that it will be worth less or even worst.Keeping out the abortion provision shows the power of the evangelical xtian fascists. This "reform" was the last chance for true socialized medicine in this country. It is a victory for the Ins. Corps. and their fellow travelers. Our legislators are no more than shills for the corpotocracy, and banksters that run this country. As such, i have been planning for this for some time. I will wait a little while longer. Patience is not one of my virtues. I will be leaving this country as soon as is feasible for me and my wife. I will not be able to retire and have adequate health care in our own country. We will be making plans to retire in my wife's country of origin. My wife is diabetic, and has a few other problems. As such it is impossible for her to get coverage. It is cheaper for us to fly to South Korea and have our health care issues taken care of there than it is to be taken care of here. So now i will most probably have to retire in S/Korea because i will not be able to afford to retire in my own country. All dreams come to an end. This one is turning into an American nightmare

Karen said...

"I'm just a retreaded activist from the 1960s trying to promote progressive values one day at a time, remove the GOP stranglehold on our nation, and insist that Democrats stop acting like Republicans."

Saw you over at Holte's and thought I would check out your blog. Your 'About Me' coulda been written by me. Nice layout over here.

Robert Rouse said...

I think EVERYONE needs to see what DICKS these asswipes were. I'm putting this up on my blog and FB as well. Thanks, Tom!

RealityZone said...

why dennis kucinich voted no. by dennis kucinich

libhom said...

I disagree strongly with you on two points. First, I have never seen any basis in reason or evidence for objecting to abortion. Fetuses and embryos do not constitute human life, and forcing women to carry pregnancies to full term amounts to involuntary servitude forbidden by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which also prohibits slavery.

Second, I do not see Dennis Kucinich and other Democrats who voted against the bill because they support single payer as wastes of human skin. That is terribly unfair, in my opinion. I probably would have voted for the bill, but this is only a tiny beginning in the efforts to bring about real healthcare reform.

I do share your disgust with the efforts of misogynist Republicans to thwart House business by targeting female House members for harassment via an endless stream of objections. I also see that as part of a broader competition among conservative politicians to compete for HMO/health insurer campaign contributions. (Max Baucus is heavily involved in it.) The lack of public financing of campaigns has created an atmosphere of elected officials offering themselves up for auction.

AdB said...


It's a good start. The national health care in Europe started piece meal too.

AdB said...

at least those I'm familiar with, eg., UK, France, Belgium...

TomCat said...

Mark, I'd describe my attitude as hope, but not faith.

Randal, we'd get better behavoir in that chamber if we replaced the goopers with a pack of rabid dogs.

Holte, you have my sympathy. Even if you could get a progressive nominee, would they have a chance against the Repuglican there?

Hi, Monique!

DC, your gut and my gut are pretty much the same. But we have made several improvements in both social security and medicare since they first passed. It is my hope that we cxab build on this.

Truth, point well taken. But the GOP only puts millionaire welfare on the credit card.

Dusty, I agree. And I apologise for my mistake on Dennis. I had intended to make except him in my vitriol, and then I just plain forgot, probably due to illness. I agree with him in principal. However, Dennis has a bad habit of failure to realize that most progress in the last 200 years has been incremental.

Stimson, I'm sad to say that their base is so brainwashed that they would applaud the behavior. Republicans support the best possible health care... for millionaires.

RZ, I'm sorry to hear that. I trust that we will still see you, though as S. Korea has excellent Internet service.

Welcome, Karen. Thanks. Great to meet another retread.

You're welcome, Robert. Thou shalt steal.

Libhom, I don't recall objecting to abortion. I think that there are much better ways to deal with unwanted pregnancy, such as better education and contraceptive availability to avoid the unwanted pregnancy to begin. But I fully support a woman's right to choose and said so. Please see my top post today. You apparantly misunderstood me. On Dennis, I intended to except him from that comment and forgot. My bad.

Anna, I agree. Change in this country is almost always incremental.