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Dems Coalescing Around a Plan for Finishing Health Care

February 2, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

The news is getting pretty banal for what is probably the most important piece of domestic legislation Congress has taken up in decades, but this is actually quite significant — there seems to be a procedural path forward emerging for the Democrats to finish up health care reform, despite all the setbacks.

Weaving together several different reports, mostly out Tuesday evening, the emerging path forward looks like this:

1) House passes a package of changes to the Senate’s health care bill (H.R. 3590) using a budget reconciliation bill. The AP is reporting that Rep. Charles Rangel [D, NY] has already started writing the reconciliation bill for this purpose.

2) Senate passes the same package of changes to its health care bill that the House passed (budget reconciliation can’t be filibustered and only requires 50 votes to pass, plus VP Biden casting the tie-breaking vote). At this point, Congress is done with the reconciliation bill, but it is not signed into law yet. Bills have a maximum 10 day waiting period between being finished by Congress and either becoming law or being vetoed.

3) Within 10 days, the House votes to pass the Senate’s health care bill.

4) The President signs the Senate health care bill into law.

5) Finally, the President signs into law the budget reconciliation bill containing the changes to the Senate health care bill.

Voila! This basically gives the Democrats a way to finish up the process of reconciling the differing Senate and House bills that they were working on when Republican Scott Brown won in Massachusetts and changed the Senate landscape.

The biggest question mark in all of this is still the Senate, though. It’s not totally clear at this point whether the Democrats have the 50 votes in the Senate they need to pass a package of changes to their bill. The House is basically looking for three changes — a watering down of the “cadillac” health plan tax, a national exchange instead of 50 state exchanges, and more subsidies for helping low and middle income people buy insurance.

I suspect that over the next week we’ll be hearing a lot more about which senators are willing to accept those changes and pass them through reconciliation, and which are not.

UPDATE:Just to clarify, the key quote from yesterday’s reports is this from Harry Reid:

But Reid acknowledged that passing the reconciliation bill first was under consideration, and the House would move before the Senate.

“That seems like a strong possibility,” Reid said.

“A strong possibility” doesn’t mean a done deal, but it’s definitely better for health care than what Kevin Drum is reporting, that the Senate is still balking at passing the reconciliation fixes first.

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  • justamick 02/03/2010 4:06am
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    + -1

    So, lets find procedural loopholes to shove this legislation down the throats of the voters who dont want this legislation in the FIRST PLACE!

    Can you explain to me how this is right?

    This President and Congress have consistently missed the mark on the priorities of the voters. The Economy, and Jobs are the top two things that Americans want addressed. Obama has IGNORED or DISMISSED the views of the Independent voters of this country. Keep in mind, these are the same people who voted him into office.

    Additionally, how in the WORLD can you force someone to purchase health insurance with the job market like it is?!? Tell you what, fix the Economy, and get people back into jobs and get the unemployment rate BELOW 4%, get rid of the deficit, then lets talk BI-PARTISAN health insurance reform.

    All the Democrats have done is taken one sly, sneeky meathod after another to slide their legislative farce past the voters of this country. It’s time the voters hold them accountable.

  • tigerlilly 02/03/2010 4:15am
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    + -1

    On a similar note, my nephew and his wife just moved to Canada. His company wants him to reorganize a business they purchased several years ago that was losing value and meny. This move takes them to Canada for about 4 years. When they began to look into health insurance ( you know Canada"s is so marvelous) they were told that they make too much money and they will have to pay for it themselves.
    If the Democrats are successful in shoving this through, that’s what we Americans have to look forward to. The government cannot ensure that everyone can have health care nor can they pay for everyone

  • Comm_reply
    spender 02/03/2010 5:04am

    So you’re upset because in Canada the free health care is only for people who make below a certain amount of money? I don’t know how much your friend is making, but I would guess that if he was brought in from the US to reorganize a failing business, it’s quite a lot. The fact that the Canadian government apparently makes people who earn business-saving consultant level money buy their own insurance rather than bleed off the public fund sounds like a smart way to keep costs down.

  • JSeverson 02/03/2010 5:29am
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    + -1

    The Democrats really are tone deaf, aren’t they? November can’t come soon enough.

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