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Dems Release Last-Minute Health Care Bill Edits

November 4, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Last night, the Democratic leadership released a Manager’s Amendment containing 42 pages of last-mute changes to their heath care bill (H.R. 3962), signaling that they are making progress in lining up the votes to pass it.

“With the completion of the Manager’s Amendment to the Affordable Health Care for America Act, we are now in the final stage of moving this critical bill through the House,” House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer [D, MD-5] said last night. The Democratic leadership has pledged to have the amendment posted online for at least 72 hours before beginning debate of the bill. According to the timestamp on the document, the amendment was officially filed at 8:53 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, meaning that the earliest debate could begin on the bill without breaking the pledge would be Friday night. It’s likely, however, that the debate won’t begin until next week. UPDATE: The vote is scheduled to take place on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelo si [D, CA-8] has posted a brief overview of the amendment at her blog. Other sites have already begun looking at it more critically. The Heritage Foundation says it includes a new $6 billion slush fund for Medicaid to dispense to nursing homes. The New York Times found language in the amendment to restrict the paper industry from getting a biofuel tax credit for using a fuel known as “black liquor.”

A lot of what’s in the amendment probably works like an earmark. By targeting incentives at districts served by on-the-fence representatives, the leadership typically uses these manager’s amendments to shore up the final votes they need to ensure passage of their bill.

Glenn Thrush at Politico says the amendment is also noteworthy for what it doesn’t include: changes to the bill’s restriction on the use of federal funds for abortions.

As it is currently written, the bill would prevent federal funds from being used for abortions by requiring insurers that provide abortion coverage to segregate any government affordability credits from individually-paid premiums so they can ensure that only the individual premiums are applied to abortion services. Rep. Bart Stupak [D, MI-1] is leading a group of about 40 pro-life Democrats who are threatening to vote en bloc against the bill unless language is added to disallow any insurer on the new Health Care Exchange that would be set up by the bill from covering abortions.

Hoyer has indicated that abortion language may be included in the “rule” that governs how the bill is brought to the floor. The text of the “rule” likely won’t be made public until a few hours before the debate begins, which Republicans say is a violation of the Democrats’ pledge to make the legislation public. “If Democrats continue to add closed-door deals to their bill after their manager’s amendment has been introduced, they will break their 72-hour promise,” said a spokesman for Minority Whip Rep. Eric Can tor [R, VA-7].

You can download a copy of the Manager’s Amendment here. If you find earmarks or anything else interesting, email me at donny at opencongress d0t org and I’ll post it to the blog.

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  • justamick 11/04/2009 7:27am
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    + -2

    Where is this “bipartisanship” that the President and the Democrats promised?

    “Shut up and Color” works in the military, it doesnt here. We, the people, are entitled to our voices being heard.

  • kgotjesus2001 11/04/2009 7:41am
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    + -2

    I am so tired of the politicians shoving this healthcare bill down our throats! The majority of Americans DO NOT want this!

  • dbmalkie6 11/04/2009 8:48am
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    + -1

    What good does having the bill on line for 72 hours do the people of this country when the officials voting on the bill are not listening to the people. This is an outrage not to mention unconstititional!

  • adn11 11/04/2009 6:25pm

    Definitely, the majority of insurance companies DO NOT want this bill. But the majority of us Americans are sick’in tired of paying more insurance premium to the executive bonus and got denied of coverage when we get sick. Insurance’s rule: more people denied of insurance when they need most = “retained earnings” and executive bonuses!!

  • Comm_reply
    Neobane 11/06/2009 6:21am

    Have you not been reading about any of the other countries “Social Healthcare” plans? You think that a government run healthcare will do anything to help the cause?

    The federal government has not run a single thing with any positive result to date. The Post Office is in shambles, Social Security is going bankrupt, and Amtrak is a money sucking black hole.

    Now you want the federal government to be the head of decisions on which of the 307,000,000 Americans and however many non-citizen health care beneficiaries will recieve care? You think that kind of management will be done anywhere remotely close to efficiently or expediently?

    Hope you don’t develop a condition with a moderate to high mortality rate. You’d have to be cut loose. Just too much to fix you. Have an unhealthy habit such as Smoking, Drinking, Excessive exposure to high risk such as driving, sports, or firearms, which is non-conformant to the high standards of health required by the government? Prepare to pay.

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