Wednesday, July 29, 2009

House Reaches Compromise on Health Care... UPDATED!

Original 10:37 AM story:

Yes, it looks like HR 3200 will finally reach the House floor. However, it won't be until September. From TPM DC:

After a week or so of canceled hearings, the Energy and Commerce Committee will continue to mark up House health care legislation this afternoon, and pass a bill by the end of the week. On substance, the exemption from penalties to small businesses that do not provide health care to workers has been raised slightly to include small businesses with payrolls of $500,000 per year or less.

The public option hasn't gone away, and remains in tact. States will be able to erect health care co-operatives if they choose, but that would be in addition to the public option.

I'm still not entirely clear where the $100 billion cost cut comes from, and, as before, it's hard to know what will happen to the politics of this over the August recess. But there will almost certainly be a bill ready for a vote when the House comes back into session in September.

So the bad news is that $100 billion will be cut from something... Unless it's (hopefully!) money being cut from the insurance industry giveaways, although I doubt we'll see many cuts from there.

Still, there's some good news. The public option looks safe and sound. The employer mandate has NOT been stripped (unlike the Baucus Caucus POS bill). And best yet, it looks like the final version of HR 3200 will avoid becoming a harmful unfunded individual mandate.

See, this is what happens with effective Democratic leadership! Kudos to Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman from my old home state, along with all the other Dem leaders who stood their ground. I wonder if Harry Reid will get the message.

UPDATE: Whoops, I may have spoken too soon.

House liberals have quickly rejected a healthcare compromise their leaders forged with centrist Blue Dogs, putting the deal on shaky ground only hours after it was announced.

"It's unacceptable," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "We're not going to vote for anything that doesn't have a robust public plan."

The Progressive Caucus has 83 members. Members are circulating a letter for signatures protesting the deal.

Woolsey said liberals cannot accept that the public plan will not be linked to Medicare, and said subsidies have been cut to the point where the plan won't help the middle class.

Uh oh. I may need to do some more research. New details have emerged on this compromise, and now they're not looking so good. The public option is still there, but it's been weakened in this Blue Dog approved "compromise" by cutting ties to Medicare (thereby leaving it more vulnerable if, say, a future President Palin or Jindal decided to undo health care and slash funding) and reducing subsidies for middle-class families. This sucks. If this is what the final House bill will really look like, I may need to rethink whether I actually want Dina Titus to vote for it.

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