Health Care Reform Passes Key Senate Committee (UPDATED X3)

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has passed the Democratic health care reform bill:

A Senate committee became the first congressional panel to advance healthcare reform legislation this year, marking a significant step toward the achievement of President Obama’s foremost domestic initiative.

On a party-line, 13-10 tally, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted to move its portion of the upper chamber’s healthcare reform legislation to the floor.


The bill would extend health insurance coverage to 21 million uninsured people over 10 years at a net cost of $611.4 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The legislation would require individuals to obtain health insurance and require most employers to provide health benefits or pay a fee toward government subsidies for their workers. The HELP Committee measure also would establish a nationwide health insurance exchange from which individuals and small-business workers could shop for insurance, including a new government-run public option.

In addition, the bill contains numerous provisions designed to improve the quality of healthcare through greater use of methods such as preventive medicine and expanded use of information-technology tools.

[Emphasis mine]

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And I’m also glad to see that–at least on this issue–the Cult of Bipartisanship is taking a hit:

If you want to guarantee coverage to all Americans, make benefits more reliable, and improve quality while restraining cost growth, you have to reorganize and regulate the insurance industry, redirect the patterns of medical care, and rejigger the way money flows through the health care system. You also have to raise some new revenue, at least in the short term.

Enzi and Hatch, like most Republicans, oppose these things. And that is certainly their prerogative. They are conservatives, after all. But that also means we shouldn’t treat their decision to reject reform as some sort of failure.

[Emphasis added]

As well as:

Pelosi said the “short answer” was yes when asked if she’d commit to bringing up the House’s healthcare reform bill regardless of Republicans’ position on the package.

“While we believe that our bill is the best path to quality, affordable health care for all Americans and would hope that our Republican collegues would share that goal,” Pelosi said in a web chat with the liberal blog Crooks and Liars, “we will pass a comprehensive bill with a robust public plan in the House with or without Republican support.”

[Emphasis added]

The Democrats should have learned their lesson from the stimulus–even if you sit down with Republicans, listen to them and include their ideas (even if those ideas weaken the bill), they’re still going to vote against you.  So why not pass a strong, effective bill with no Republican support instead of watering down that bill and still getting no Republican support? It makes no sense.

Republicans aren’t interested in reforming health care in any meaningful way; they just want Democrats to fail. The sooner Congressional Democrats realize that fact, the easier it will become to pass some meaningful reform, for once.

UPDATE: What’s the Republican response to the Democratic health care reform proposal? An incomprehensible flowchart!


I guess the point of this is supposed to be that health care reform is complicated.

Well, gee, if only we had a body of people whose jobs it were to understand and debate complex legislation.  Maybe we could even give each of those people paid staffs to help them sort through complicated bills.

Oh, wait. We already have something like that–it’s called the United States Congress. Come on, get over it guys–legislation is complicated. Health care reform is complicated.  And it should be complicated–we’re talking about massive reform that is going to affect millions of people in a variety of different ways. The proposal should look at things from a variety of different angles and take a lot of different factors into account; I would be worried if health care reform wasn’t complicated, because then it would clearly be leaving a lot out.

What is this all about? Well, it looks like we’re seeing the right-wing obstructionist meme evolve from “this bill is long, therefore we shouldn’t pass it” to “this bill is complicated, therefore we shouldn’t pass it”, both of which are ridiculous arguments that doesn’t even bother to address any of the provisions of the bill in question.

And remember, this is all coming from the same political party who brought the PATRIOT ACT to a vote the day after it was first introduced in the House. Republicans, what a joke.

UPDATE II: TPM brings us this:

Responding to this latest attack with tongue in cheek, a House aide sends over a different chart–circulating among Democratic staffers–which gives the GOP’s alternative health care proposal similar treatment.


As I noted yesterday, the House Republican plan chimes in at four pages and accomplishes key reform goals via a bit of hocus pocus.

Personally, I’d like to see a flowchart of how our current health care system works, showing how many hurdles people without health insurance–or not enough health insurance–has to go through to get health care.

UPDATE III: Ask and ye shall receive–The New Republic diagrams our current health care system [click for larger version]:


Well, imagine that–health care is complicated, health care reform is complicated, and the Republicans still got nothin’.