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No Health Care Votes 'til September

July 28, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

I’ve been unable to access OpenCongress all day due to a pesky DNS error, so please excuse me for not updating earlier. Most of the day, anyways, there wasn’t much to say about Congress’ progress on health care other than it didn’t seem like they were making any progress. In the House, the Blue Dogs continued to mull Waxman’s compromise offer, and in the Senate, the Finance Committee continued dropping key democratic provisions from their version of the bill.

But finally, some of what appears to be substantial news from the committees. Via Glenn Thrush, here’s a Republican memo claiming that House Democrats have officially decided to put off a vote on the health care bill until September:

From: Cavicke, David
Sent: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 4:51 PM
To: REDACTED
Subject: Schedule

Democratic Leadership has told Mr. Boehner’s staff that there will be no vote on Health on the Floor before recess and we will leave Friday.
We still have no confirmation of plans to resume or end the Committee Markup.

David L. Cavicke
Republican Chief of Staff
Committee on Energy and Commerce

And on the Senate side, Sen. Kent Conrad [D, ND] gave a few more details of what the Finance Committee’s health care co-op plan will look like:

The cooperative (or co-op) is a non-profit, non-government-run health insurance plan designed to compete against private insurance companies. The nature of a co-op is that it’s a privately owned entity run and financially supported by the people who use it.

The Finance Committee co-op would be available on a state, regional, or even national basis. “If somebody came forward and wanted to put together a national entity, they could do that,” Conrad said. “If various states wanted to join together to have a regional option … nothing would prohibit either of those.”

Health-care experts suggested to Conrad the co-op would require a front-end federal investment of $6 billion. “When you start up a health insurance company, state laws require you to have reserves,” Conrad said, in order to make these entities viable.

Accountants versed in health care told the bipartisan group that the co-ops would attract 12 million people, making it the third-largest provider of health insurance in the country. It’s unknown if those people would be from the uninsured population or migrate over from private plans. “I don’t think there’s any way of knowing that,” Conrad said. “I think you’d have some of both.”

The Health and Human Services Secretary would appoint an interim board, charged with setting policy.

The Finance Committee leaves for recess a week after the House, on August 7th. Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] today said that he was confident that the Committee would complete their mark-up of the health care bill before the recess begins.

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