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SCOTUS health care reform ruling imminent

June 28, 2012 - by David Moore

In advance of the un-publicly-accountable U.S. Supreme Court ruling on health care reform (#hcr on micropublishing), some handy links ::

H.R. 3590 (111th Congress) - the major "Patient Protection & Affordable Care" bill - official textmoney trail of interests supporting & opposing, roll call votes, House vote on passage (concurring w/ Senate).  

I enthusiastically recommend you stream WNYC's the Brian Lehrer Show during the 10am ruling. (Listen now link is buried on the right-hand side for some reason.) Will be informed & reality-based & clutch. More background links after the jump.

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Affordable Health Care Act under SCOTUS review

March 26, 2012 - by David Moore

(Ed. - re-publishing this post from last week Monday.) You've likely heard this morning that SCOTUS is reviewing H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, i.e. the major health-care reform bill from the previous 111th U.S. Congress that was signed into law March 22nd, 2010. Full bill text (including most-commented sections), roll call results, money trailnews & blog coveragepublic comments

The relatively-under-appreciated (in my opinion) Memeorandum has the wide-ranging overview from blogs & news around the Webnet; the must-read-every-day Wonkblog by Ezra Klein et al chez WaPo brings (as expected & appreciated & admired) the accessible primer: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know About #hcr & SCOTUS

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Republicans Not Giving Up on Birth Control Issue

March 2, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

Despite losing a vote in the Senate yesterday, congressional Republicans are doubling down on their efforts to let employers to pick and choose which health services are covered by their insurance plans under the new health care law.

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PIPA first on Senate agenda on Jan. 24th, 2012

January 3, 2012 - by David Moore

Happy 20-12 all, looking ahead to the second session of the 112th U.S. Congress. The House is officially back in session on Jan. 17th, and the Senate convenes on Monday Jan. 23rd. Until then it's all about district visits & fundraisers, generally speaking.

The most important blog post of the new year - so far - is by our ally Ernesto Falcon of Public Knowledge, giving an overview of the legislative process surrounding the net censorship bill PIPA when the Senate returns under Sen. Reid's prioritization. He writes, "On January 24th, Majority Leader Reid’s cloture motion will have matured its 30 hours and he will then be allowed to call for an up-or-down vote on moving forward to consider PIPA... For example, if 59 Senators voted yes on cloture and 41 Senators voted present or do not vote at all, it fails to pass."

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House Readies a Bipartisan "Jobs" Bill

October 19, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Republicans and Democrats in the House are throwing their support behind a bill to let federal contractors retain more of their payments up front. They're planning to pay for it by scaling back federal health care subsidies for the poor and middle class.

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Enough About Jobs Already!

October 13, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The House is taking a break from working on jobs, the economy, and other dull stuff like that so they can vote on an important issue that the people actually care about -- abortion. The Repubilcan leadership has scheduled a vote this afternoon on the "Protect Life Act," which would allow hospitals to deny abortion services even if it means the mother will die. Finally! HuffPo:

The House is scheduled to vote this week on a new bill that would allow federally-funded hospitals that oppose abortions to refuse to perform the procedure, even in cases where a woman would die without it.

Under current law, every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid money is legally required to provide emergency care to any patient in need, regardless of his or her financial situation. If a hospital is unable to provide what the patient needs -- including a life-saving abortion -- it has to transfer the patient to a hospital that can.

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A year and a half after the landmark health care reform bill was signed into law, Congress is moving forward with new bipartisan legislation to increase consumer access to cheaper generic medications. The bill, entitled thePreserve Access to Afordable Generics Act, is meant to prohibit brand-name drug comapnies from paying off generic drug companies to not bring their cheaper, substantially-similar products to market. It is scheduled for markup by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday and will likely be approved.

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For two years in a row, President Obama used part of his State of the Union speech to endorse, generally, legislation designed to reduce wasteful health care costs by reforming the medical liability system. The idea is to limit so-called "defensive medicine" wherein doctors prescribe unnecessary tests, treatments and referrals fortheir patients in order to protect themselves against potential lawsuits. Those extra tests are a major drag on the medical system, possibly costing the system up to $210 billion annually. Today, the House of Representatives is taking the first step in passing medical liability reform legislation. Their bill, the "Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-Cost, Timely Healthcare Act," is scheduled for an Energy and Commerce Committee mark-up to begin this afternoon and be continued tomorrow morning.

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House to Vote on Abortion Tax Bill

May 4, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Under current law, no federal funding can be used for abortions except in cases of incest or rape. But that fact isn't stopping House Republicans from using the false premise of blocking federal funding for abortions to push legislation that would make it harder for women to use their own money to finance abortion services. Their misleadingly-titled "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" is lined up for a vote today, and, with 227 co-sponsors, it is expected to pass.

UPDATE: This passed the House, 251-175.

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It has long been clear that congressional Republicans are interested in breaking the health care reform law, not improving it. They've already attempted to repeal it entirely and a recent press release from Speaker Rep. John Boehner [R, OH-8] describes, proudly, how the government funding deal that the Republicans negotiated "undermines" the law. Its a sensible strategy given that the Republicans don't have enough control of the government right now to fully repeal it -- if they can gut the law and make it fail, they'll win politically and, so the thinking goes, gain the influence to enact a full repeal.

But, unfortunately, the strategy requires killing some of the best ideas with potential for broad support since they may make people actually like the law when it takes effect. A prime example is the "Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan" (Co-Op) provision that would provide start-up resources for member-owned, non-profit health insurance cooperatives to provide competition with private insurers and potentially drive down costs. This provision, which has yet to go into effect, would be repealed under the government funding bill that is currently making its way through Congress.

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The Real Problem With Funding the Government

April 7, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

After meeting late Wednesday night with House Speaker John Boehner [R, OH-8], Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid [D, NV] took to the floor this morning and said that agreeing on a topline budget number isn't the thing blocking a deal on preventing a government shutdown Friday night, it's social policy. “Our differences are no longer over the savings we get on government spending, Reid said. “The only thing holding up an agreement is ideology.”

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House Republicans are backing away from controversial language in their No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act that would change a long-standing exemption in abortion laws that allows federal funds to be used for abortions in the case of rape or incest by requiring that a rape be "forcible" to qualify. According to Politico, the bill's author, Rep. Chris Smith [R, NJ-4], has agreed to amend the bill and remove the language after pro-choice groups and political commentators of all stripes expressed outrage.

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Redefining Rape

January 28, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Nick Baumann takes a look at the Republicans' bill to limit access to abortions, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, and finds an especially odious provision:

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.

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Later today, the House of Representatives will vote on a bill to repeal health care reform, and it is expected to pass (UPDATE: the repeal bill passed by a vote of 245-189). But don't be fooled -- it is purely symbolic and there is no chance that it will become law. Here are three reasons why.

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The House Republican majority gets started in earnest today on their push to repeal the Affordable Care Act. On the schedule for today in the House is the rule that will set the procedural framework for next week's votes on H.R.2, the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Act" and its counterpart H.Res.9, "instructing certain committees to report legislation replacing the job-killing health care law." This is the first rule on significant legislation that the new Republican majority is bringing to a vote, but, contrary to their pledge to be more open about committee action and amendments, they are using a closed rule that is more restrictive than most and skipping committee action entirely.

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