The affordable Health Care Act, introduced into the House of Representatives by Congressman John D. DINGELL (D-MI), the longest-serving Member of Congress ever, passed in the House yesterday (Saturday!) by a vote of 220-215. Co-sponsors included House veterans Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Henry Waxman (D-CA).
If you think that's a slender margin, think again. According to today's New York Times, a minimum of 218 votes were required for it to pass. That means that three votes made the difference.
One of them came from a surprising source, a Louisiana Republican (AnhCao, R-LA), concerned with the pathetic state of health care in New Orleans but also attracted to the prohibition of funding for abortions. This decision really throws a monkey wrench into partisan solidarity, doesn't it?
And another of the nays came from an equally surprising source, considering his alignment with 39 Blue Dogs and the other 176 Republicans, Dennis Kucinich, possibly the most liberal Member of Congress ever. I hate to compare him with Lieberman and his latest apostasy. A lot of the Blue Dogs represent Republic districts and fear they won't be reelected next year if they didn't please their constituents on this landmark legislation.
Like many of us, and most of the choir I'm preaching to, Kucinich wanted single-payer health care that encompassed abortions. And the list doesn't stop there, but those are two of the salient points.
HR 3962 is 1,931 pages long on the Internet, double-spaced and in large, legible fontTimes New Roman or Georgia, maybe. It will cost $1.1 trillion over ten years.
The benefits of the bill far exceed the provisions offered by the Clinton legislation in 1993, according to the Times.
According to the Times also, Most employers would have to provide coverage or pay a tax penalty of up to 8 percent of their payroll. The bill would significantly expand Medicaid and would offer subsidies to help moderate-income people buy insurance from private companies or from a government insurance plan. It would also set up a national insurance exchange where people could shop for coverage.
It would fill the doughnut hole in Medicare Option D, a space in that coverage that extracts a few thousand dollars from those covered before they resume Medicare coveragethe amount you pay above $2,700 in drug costs and below $4,350 out of pocket, according to Hubpages.com.
There is a penalty for those who don't sign up for any insurancecoverage is available to 96 percent of the population.A penalty for those who use emergency rooms for both routine and catastrophic health care.What of the others? I'll have to read up on that, as Eisenhower used to tell the press. Illegal immigrants would not qualify, says Wikipedia. Perhaps also the billionaires? Now that would make sense. There will be an acute shortage of doctors, warns one Manhattan physician according to the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps enough to treat only billionaires?
To briefly summarize the nearly 2,000 pages, according to Opencongress.org:
it seeks to expand health care coverage to the approximately 40 million Americans who are currently uninsured by lowering the cost of health care and making the system more efficient. To that end, it includes a new government-run insurance plan (a.k.a. a public option) to compete with the private companies, a requirement that all Americans have health insurance, a ban on denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition and, to pay for it all, a surtax on individuals with incomes above $500,000."
A list of links to subjects of the bill appears at Thomas.loc.gov.
Here's what goes into effect immediately, according to:
1. BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE Reduces the donut hole by $500 and institutes a 50% discount on brand-name drugs, effective January 1, 2010.
2. IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED UNTIL EXCHANGE IS AVAILABLE (INTERIM HIGH-RISK POOL) Creates a temporary insurance program until the Exchange is available for individuals who have been uninsured for several monthsor have been denied a policy because of pre-existing conditions.