House Unveils Health Care Bill; Next Steps for the Progressive Caucus

by: Chris Bowers

Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 11:19


The House Democratic leadership unveiled its health care bill this morning. Some details:

The bill -- a combination of versions passed by three House committees -- includes what is termed a "negotiated rate" public option. It will cost $894 billion over 10 years and extend insurance coverage to 36 million Americans, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.

The bill guarantees that 96 percent of Americans have coverage, Pelosi's office said. The figure is based on an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

One of the main differences between the House bill and the Senate Finance committee bill is that a significant portion of funding comes from a surtax on wealthy households, rather than on high-cost health care plans (which mainly target unions)

The new bill, like an earlier version, retains a surtax on high-income people, but increases the thresholds. The tax would hit married couples with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $1 million a year and individuals over $500,000 - just three-tenths of 1 percent of all households, Democrats said.

Expect this funding mechanism to make it through to the final bill, given that the tax on high-cost health insurance plans has fewer supporters in 2the House than single-payer. If the Baucus funding mechanism is sent back to the House after the conference committee, then the entire bill will go down to defeat.

The Progressive Caucus appears to be moving toward an amendment strategy, rather than a defeat the whole bill strategy. They will make this case today in a meeting with President Obama:

"I will insist on a Medicare-plus-5 [percent] amendment on the floor so that the full caucus can vote on it. We are hopeful that the Rules Committee will allow this amendment, which has tremendous public support, to be voted on for the record."

They will also get a chance Thursday to press their case for a public option in the final bill to Obama in a White House meeting. Many liberals have been irritated by Obama's wavering on the necessity of a public option.

Asked if her caucus would be prepared to balk at supporting a public option with negotiated rates - a threat they made in writing at the beginning of July - Grijalva's fellow co-chairwoman, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), said: "When we see what the bill says, we'll decide if we can support it."

Woolsey added that while Progressives don't intend to sign off on just anything that's handed to them, "this isn't walk-away time."

The problem with an amendment strategy is that the House leadership will likely not allow many, if any, amendments to be offered on the House floor. The reason is because of Bart Stupak, who is trying to defeat the entire bill by rounding up 40 House Democrats to demand that  none of the insurance plans receiving subsidies in the exchange are allowed to cover abortions. If such an amendment passes--and the leadership believes that it would if offered on the floor--then the entire bill goes down to defeat, since it will lose the votes of dozens of pro-choice Democrats. As such, the leadership is going not going to allow any amendments, and make Stupak's only move to try and prevent the bill from going to the floor at all. It is unlikely he will succeed.

Floor amendments are approved by the House Rules committee. As such, the next step in the fight will be fought there. The committee is generally thought of as an extension of the leadership, so those fights may already be a foregone conclusion. Still, look for Representatives Stupak, Grijalva, and Weiner to try and get their amendments on restricted abortion funding, a vote on Medicare +5 rates, and single-payer to the floor.

Chris Bowers :: House Unveils Health Care Bill; Next Steps for the Progressive Caucus

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Chris, can you explain this part? (0.00 / 0)
As such, the leadership is going not going to allow any amendments, and make Stupak's only move to try and prevent the bill from going to the floor at all. It is unlikely he will succeed.

What sort of leverage would he have in preventing the bill from coming to the floor at all?


I am assuming he would vote with Republicans, he and whomever he can convince to join him. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
is there something like a motion to proceed vote that (0.00 / 0)
is required to bring the bill to the floor of the House?

[ Parent ]
I am sure Chris has greater detail, but thats what it sounds like, and thats what I understood. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Two things (4.00 / 2)
There will be two procedural votes on the bill before formal debate begins on the floor:

"Ordering the Previous Question" - Which basically means agreeing to vote on the rule for the bill.

Passage of the Rules Package - This sets the rules of debate, such as what amendments can be offered, and how much time is available.

Stupak's, or any Democratic opponent, leverage is the threat to join with Republicans to blow up either of those two votes. If either of the votes failed, the Leadership would pull the bill from consideration.


[ Parent ]
Tell Stupak he can offer his amendment (4.00 / 5)
only if it's tied to single payer.

Let's see how "pro life" he and his ilke really are.

John McCain won't insure children


[ Parent ]
That one is a hoot... (0.00 / 0)
:)

John


[ Parent ]
That's actually a really good idea (4.00 / 1)
Maybe it's because I don't hold abortion rights that high as a priority, but I don't think we should lose Medicare +5 over abortion.

[ Parent ]
I'd find that amusing just to watch heads blow up. (0.00 / 0)
Such an amendment wouldn't stand a chance in hell of passing, though.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
What a bunch of hooey (4.00 / 2)
They are making sausage with live citizens.

I don't know if I have ever been so disgusted, so thoroughly disappointed.


How Bad? (4.00 / 1)
It's time for Progressives to find out how bad Obama wants this bill.

Chris, what about the Kucinich amendment -- (4.00 / 2)
-- to decriminalize single-payer attempts by states? Don't you think Rules will address it at all?

Why "de-criminalize"? Is there something in the Bill about disallowing? (0.00 / 0)
California passed a Single Payer, only to be vetoed by the worst Governor ever. It was my understanding that the Kucinich amendment on States single payer is an enabler for using fed funds, parameters for negotiation etc..

Not passing that amendment doesnt make State single payer illegal, just harder to negotiate with the fed gov.


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I believe the argument is (0.00 / 0)
That the competitiveness requirements of the "exchange" would preclude a state from going single-payer.

[ Parent ]
ERISA requirements... (4.00 / 1)
... need to be relaxed in order to permit single payer experiments. That's the purpose of the Kucinich amendment.

If the Kucinich Amendment is not allowed on the floor, yes, single payer would be outlawed in the states.

If that happens, I'd suggest making a state's rights argument with the Republicans, and sending the whole bill down to defeat. (After all, one of the selling points of the incremental approach is that turning the system into a single payer one; it's hard to see criminalizing single payer as a good first step in that direction.)

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  


[ Parent ]
Got a link on that, Cenobite? (0.00 / 0)
After all, Sibelius did say that the administration was working to block single payer permanently, so maybe this is how.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Sorry, I seem to recall reading that.. (0.00 / 0)
at Corrente :-)

[ Parent ]
Googled, but no (0.00 / 0)
I recall hearing the same argument, but if we made it, I can't find it. Sorry!

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Yes, it DOES make state single payer illegal. Here is a quote and the links (4.00 / 1)
Center for Policy Analysis:

Summary

Some state and local governments that have attempted to expand health care coverage have been successfully challenged in court [bold mine] under the terms of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA pre-empts states from enacting legislation if it is "related to" employee benefit plans. It reserves that right to the federal government.  Section 514 of ERISA states that Title V (Administration and Enforcement) and Title IV (Fiduciary Responsibility) of ERISA "shall supercede any and all State laws insofar as they may... relate to any employee benefit plan."  There is no provision for an administrative waiver of these rules.

The Kucinich amendment to HR 3200, approved by a recorded vote of the House Education and Labor Committee, would remove this barrier for states that have enacted and signed into law a single payer system.


The issue has nothing to do with "making it harder to negotiate with the fed gov," as HouseOfProgress states.

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Excellent work lambert. (0.00 / 0)
Thank you for this. Perhaps we can hold a symposium here on openleft on this subject.

And I am not yet opposed, nor yet calling for putting this bill to sleep. Not to bed, but dirt nap.

I am serious about the symposium. California passed a Single payer bill, can anyone talk about what they were planning to do about that (admittedly) seemingly unrelated gotcha. And if California wasn't concerned, does their ability to challenge fed law give this effort any extra strength?

We are definitively at the point of deciding to kill the health reform bill and going tooth and nail after the blue dogs.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I just called Kucinich's office to ask this (0.00 / 0)
And the expert staffer was not available -- I hope, and assume, because they were off trying to get this one small right thing done in the midst of the debacle.  

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Here it is folks (4.00 / 2)
1,990 pages of pure reading pleasure.  Enjoy.  

http://docs.house.gov/rules/he...


Primary Stupak (4.00 / 1)
Michigan's primary is not until August 2010 -- there is plenty of time for a primary challenger to put a campaign together if there is not already one in place.  

It's time we all see the forest: it's decaying rapidly. (0.00 / 0)
Sorry to regurgitate this, but it's necessary while we're all so busy:

Obama personally and instantly embraced Wall Streets notorious money managers Geithner and Summers, and is giving that little strip of the country a free ride - still - while the rampant corruption continues to be exposed.
Greenwald and Rattigan are rightly pounding the desk about it.
- This government's involvement as enablers has and will continue to stir the entire country into a rage.
The shit is  hitting the fan now and will continue to hit Dems the hardest in 2010.

Obama personally backed the 'virtues' of the CIA and Panetta, neocon programs like the Patriot Acts and others in Justice -and a continued war with Afghanistan.
-The shit is and will continue to hit the fan there as well, but Obama in particular. His positions will not be helpful to many Dems in 2010.

Obama allowed the summer right-wing riots by giving Harry Reid and Steny Hoyer passes on moving quickly on health care reform.  Then effectively backed every Republican's excuse for further delays.
-His actions deflated and continue to deflate his own base and their strength of conviction by not coming to their rescue, instead, which emboldened those opposed to new heights of vitriol.

Now comes Joe Lieberman, whom Obama vigorously defended against.. us, and now throws darts into the puny and unresponsive mind of Harry Reid, while publicly decapitating his Democratic friends, again.
-But the Democrats are more pliable than ever before.  Only 30 Senators out of the 60 spoke up on the PO.

Every dollar and hour I give next, and in succeeding years, will be to rid the party, to decrease the numbers of weaklings and scumbags.  
Obama is too weak for me.  

Nationalism is not the same thing as terrorism, and an adversary is not the same thing as an enemy.


[ Parent ]
MI-1 is listed on Wikipedia as R+3 (0.00 / 0)
Don't know if this reflects the 2008 presidential election, but this doesn't seem very promising, as much as I'd like it to be.

[ Parent ]
real mess (4.00 / 2)
all this could have been avoided had pelosi went with 80pct of the caucus and robust po. now we have a fight brewing with progs to amend the bill. a real mess

It's an attempt to break the prog bloc. (4.00 / 2)
We have to rally and decide together how we're going to deal with this.  And we don't have much time to do it in.

The plan was to kill a bad bill.  My gut instinct says if we can't figure out the pros and cons by the time it's up for vote, chances are there's more bad lurking in there than any good that could come out of it, so kill the bill.  We've been burned far too often on rushed bills to have not learned this lesson, and I get the impression that's what's going to happen in the House.  They're going to try to ram this through without amendments, which sends red warning flags up all over the place in my mind, even if their supposed reasoning is to avoid Stupid Stupak's amendment.

But let's try to figure it out first, so we're not going on raw emotions.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
I got an email from Chris Van Hollen at DCCC (0.00 / 0)
boasting that the House introduced a bill with a "strong" public option:

I wanted to share some exciting news with you. Today, Democrats under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have officially introduced our new bill in the House of Representatives. This bill will reform our broken health insurance system and includes a strong public option.

Thinking that maybe the House leadership had reversed itself and decided to introduce the Medicare +5 PO after all, I excitedly raced here to Open Left to see if that was the case.  Imagine my disappointment.

It's technically not a lie since "strong" is a vague term, but isn't the DCCC being a little disingenuous in calling it "strong" when most people use that term in reference to Medicare +5 rather than negotiated?


A lot disingenuous n/t (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
ugh (4.00 / 4)
Liberals have contended that Clyburn and other leaders gave in too easily. And the names on the list do raise questions. For example, Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) is listed as a no. But Altmire says he's told leadership he's fine with a Medicare-based public option. He opposes the bill as it stands because of cost and because it includes an income surtax.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) is listed as "leaning no," even though she and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) co-authored an op-ed earlier this month supporting the "robust" option. It was titled, "Why We're Breaking With the Blue Dogs on the Public Option."

Why are we giving up on this?

Harman is facing a primary challenge, I believe.  Maybe it will actually succeed this time because of this.


good pt (4.00 / 3)
that why rep g wants to try an amendment. put them on record here. plus whip count wasnt done right. whyw ere so many backed robust counted as no? we are letting 47 dems destroy good policy?

[ Parent ]
How to Deal with Sen. Lieberman (4.00 / 1)
I am heartsick over Lieberman's threat to filibuster cloture on final passage of the health reform bill.

I think the best way to counter his threat is to get him where he's most sensitive; and since I am of Jewish heritage, I can say this.  I suggest asking progressive Jewish organizations to get involved. Here is the letter I faxed to Lieberman.
____________________________________

Senator Joseph Lieberman
Fax:  (202) 224-9750

Dear Senator Lieberman:

You will be remembered as an embarrassment to the Jewish People and a betrayer of American Democracy.

"Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" - Army head counsel Joseph Welch to Senator Joseph McCarthy, 1954 Senate hearing  


This is actually not a bad idea lol (4.00 / 1)
but Lieberman is the very definition of a politician going rogue, which means one who doesn't care about any potential reparations s/he might face.

Still, this is actually a good idea, Id love to see him get booed at a synagogue in Stamford.  


[ Parent ]
Going rogue? (4.00 / 1)
Dammit.  You just made me think of a Palin-Lieberman Presidential ticket.

Now I need to go wash my brain.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
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