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Finance Committee Says "Yes" to Health Care Reform

October 13, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate Finance Committee — the most conservative committee in all of Congress — was supposed to be the hurdle to trip up health care reform. If the Democrats could pass a bill out of the Finance Committee, they could pass one through the House and the full Senate. The roadblocks to President Obama’s health care reform push would be moderates and conservatives, not liberals, the thinking goes.

Well, today the Finance Committee officially approved their health care bill by a vote of 14-9 — full roll call info forthcoming on OpenCongress — for now, check the official membership — all 14 Dems voted aye, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was the lone Republican voting to approve the measure. This sends the issue to the full Senate for debate and votes on the floor and essentially seals the deal that Obama’s health care reform plan would become law.

The Finance Committee bill, known as the America‚Äôs Health Future Act of 2009 and championed principally by Chairman Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT], is more conservative than any of the other health care bills in Congress. It does not contain a public option, its subsidies for helping low-income people buy insurance are low, it doesn’t require employers to provide insurance for their employees and levies heavier fines on individuals that don’t get insurance. But it will have to be reconciled with the more liberal Senate HELP Committee health care bill before it comes to the Senate floor. A handy chart laying out the major sticking points between the two bills can be found here.

On the topic of the public option, there has been a lot of chatter about a potential compromise proposal to set up a robust, nation-wide public plan, but allow states to opt out of it. The idea is that the such a plan would lead to a public option that had the economy of scale to work at driving down costs, but wouldn’t restrict a state’s ability to not participate for any reason. Previous versions of federalist plans like this were mostly focused on opt-in, giving states the ability to set up their own state-wide or regional public plans if they wanted to.

Expect the opt-out public option or something close to it to be in the bill that Democratic leaders bring to the floor. It’s the kind of thing that moderates will probably be OK enough with to vote in favor of breaking a Republican filibuster on starting debate of the bill, but not enough to actually support adding as an amendment. You can also expect the Dem. leadership to throw the progressives a bone and let them have their vote on a straight, robust public option like the one included in the House bill.

As for the timing, the bill won’t hit the Senate floor until the reconciliation process with the HELP bill is completed, the Congressional Budget Office has scored it, and it (and the CBO score) have been online for a “reasonable” period of time. I think that means the week of October 26th is about when we can expect the floor debate to begin. But, who knows, the timing could change. Just about every stage of the health care reform process has taken much longer than expected.

We are going to continue to watch this whole thing closely, and we’ll be reporting on this blog as news breaks and new information becomes available. Grab the RSS feed and stay tuned!

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Jjonesn 10/13/2009 10:12am

As you can with todays vote. They still are not listening to the American People. It is time to Vote everyone of them out of office. Time to put people in place with the same Views of the Founders of this Great Country.

beecharmer 10/13/2009 12:44pm

Why is no one listening? I don’t want your version of what’s good for me. We tell our children what to do. What’s good for them. We don’t shove a Bill down the throats of the voting public and say “Take your medicine kid! You don’t have a choice.” This isn’t the USSR!!! I’m still an American, it’s not a dirty word. And I’m sick to death with these mafia style tactics…..IS ANYONE OUT THERE?

LucasFoxx 10/13/2009 4:53pm

They need to eliminate Open Enrollment periods. But the big problem with this is that the Co-op does not read like a viable alternative to a public option. It’s useless if it is not generally available.

BubbaJoeJebediahBuford 10/14/2009 7:03am

Bring back the 10th Amendment and let the States decide!

BubbaJoeJebediahBuford 10/14/2009 7:02am

Someone tell me why this isn’t a tax? A Gov’t mandated expenditure of a citizen’s money on a service or through penalty sure sounds like a tax. Only if you’re lucky enough to have an employer that offers health insurance, and you don’t get fired or laid off, can you avoid paying penalties, or else it becomes a matter of weeding through the paperwork to figure out what medical costs which private insurer is actually going to cover. Where is the penalty money going? General revenue most likely to help pay for some controversial sculpture from the National Endowment for the Arts or a Senator’s pet project.

redduke 10/14/2009 7:23am

Why would anyone think the Government could possible do anything but destroy health care in America by taking over what’s left of a free market system that need some fixes, but works?

The government failed at running a railroad.
They failed at running a Post Office
They failed at running two mortgage companies
They failed at running a rescue and recovery effort.
They failed at running an acquisition organization.
They failed at running an educational system (even though it is not their responsibility)
The Government is failing at running an automobile company.
The Government is failing at promoting an economy.

That is not what the Government does. They take money they do not earn and they spend it where it will garner them votes. If that is not a recipe for disaster when it comes to something as personal as my health care, then there is no hope for us.

NONE of the bills fix the problems.

eliminate insurance monopolies. Expand free market solutions.

redduke 10/14/2009 8:56am
in reply to Anonymous Oct 13, 2009 8:13pm

1. The Majority of Americans are against this bill.
2. Healthcare is NOT a fundamental human right.
3. Public Option IS a revolutionary (quite literaly) concept for these United States.
4. Public Option does not promote the General Welfare. It destroys it. 30% of America is already on a Public Option. How is that working out for you?

47 Million without health insurance
10 Million are illegal occupants
18 Million earn over $50,000 a year (9 Million earn over $75,000)
approx. 10 Million are already eligible for a "public option but do not apply???

In a recent NPR article, 75% of high-school students without insurance are eligible for Medicaid. Who do they feature? A girl from the other 25% who, by her own admission, has a new car and a closet full of new clothes.

There are low-cost student/young adult policies available for the cost of a cell phone subscription.

pepesmom 10/14/2009 12:15pm

Unfortunately H res.615 only urges members of Congress to get out of FEHBP and sign up for the public option. What is needed is the stipulation that all of the elitist healthcare and insurance options afforded Congress, by their own enactments, be held to the same provisions that will apply to the private insurance of the rest of us. This is the only way we will get a fair enactment of a healthcare insurance bill unless they prefer to open up their insurance plans to the general public, again any provisions pertaining to all. Whether you are for or against this additional elephant to our already failed or failing government run programs, to demand that Congress and federal employees be treated exactly as the rest of us is our right.

pepesmom 10/14/2009 12:38pm

I would like to see every county in every state start petitions to send to Congress which would demand that Congress hold themselves and their healthcare plans and insurance to any provisions which they are trying to apply to the rest of us. No one, either for or against a bill of this sort, could find any fault with this except them. They are our employees, not the untouchables, and are totally ignoring our wishes. People with honest concerns are labeled by them as unamerican or worse. Waste and corruption in Congress is not being addressed on any level.

adn11 10/14/2009 7:40pm

Public option is public option. There is no substitute for it. And the health care reform bill cannot be short of it. The only ones truly benefit from the bill without public option are the big insurance companies, as they have already always been. Arguments, such as “free market,” “government take-over,” “socialist,” and any other alikes, are these companies’ tactics to divert the people attention and buying into their fears and ignorance of understanding the government roles in a healthy democracy and free-market country. If Congress and the House cannot step in from time to time to check the corporates from taking advantage of the people, like it is now with the health insurance companies, free market would be degenerated into corporate fascism.

Anonymous 10/13/2009 1:42pm

History my arse, Senator Snowe; are you that venal & evil? The American people are against this. This administration is strangling the economy & spending us into oblivion! The foreigners are losing faith and the taxpayers are revolting!

oderintdummetuant 10/14/2009 5:55am
in reply to Anonymous Oct 13, 2009 8:13pm

Health care is NOT a fundamental human right. Where do you draw that from? On what are you basing that statement?
Every poll taken so far has showed that the majority of Americans DO NOT want a public option.
No its not a revolutionary concept, the subjugation of the populace is as old as man himself. Public roads…we all use, fire control? Yeah, LOCAL government issues don’t mirror federal intrusion using “health care reform” irrelevant. Police services again local…not relevant, military services…provided for in our Constitution and part of what the Federal Government exist for…not relevant. Public utilities…state issue at BEST…not relevant.
WE DON’T ALL USE THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, but are going to required to pay into it?
Sheep…you deserve nothing other than the opportunity to provide for yourself.

needy2 10/14/2009 7:48am

Remember all this come election time. EVERYONE who voted for this needs to voted OUT!!!!

Anonymous 10/14/2009 5:25am
in reply to Anonymous Oct 13, 2009 1:42pm

kudos bee, this bill is so subtle in the evil that it could bring, most never see the perversion/confusion.
-taxes will not just break the freedoms of americans, it could destroy the nation.
-we have to win the war first!
-illegals will rake us to a debt level that will be 100 times worse than today.
-health bill is a trojan horse for amnesty – an abomination to the rule of law.
-will severely weaken us in defense against terrorism from the islamic fanatics.
-abortion addicts around the world will get their $$$ to continue
-drug addicts in out nation will continue on illegal drugs bilked from the system
-cheaters and mafia’oso bilkers of the Govt will grow exponentially
-on and on………………….

I would not want to stand before God in the Judgement in never having spoken out against this perversion and deception. hr3200 is an abomination to man and God.


Anonymous 10/13/2009 8:13pm

To the authors of some of the previous comments, do you really think that the majority of (US) Americans are against this bill? How many people are struggling to pay for or are unable to pay for actual health care. Healthcare is a fundamental human right. Considering that the less healthy a population is, the more unsettled and unhappy it is. I, personally, am disappointed that the public option was left out of the current bill. This is NOT that revolutionary of a concept, except for those who will lose money as a result, who, in my opinion, are robbing a large number of people, usually the middle-class and poor.
I agree, let’s hope for a viable, comprehensive public option to surface in the near future. Though at least we are heading the right direction. To one of the authors above (“shoving” it down our throats)…do we “shove” public roads, fire control, police services, military services, and public utilities down the public’s throat?

Anonymous 10/15/2009 5:46am

Public option is just that, but if you read the bill as written in HR3200 and you put together all of the restrictions and provisions that will be put on insurance companies and your company does not have them, you will have to find another company which does and if you can’t you will go into the public pot. The public option as wanted by this bill is NOT what anyone in their right mind would want.

adn11 10/13/2009 1:53pm
Link Reply
+ -1

While it’s nice to laud the Senate that it did come through, their senses, passing the reform, the bill-reform is still only half complete. Without the public option the bill will be still handicapped and lack the proper tools to carry out the health care reform objectives. Lets hope the other half, with public option, done by the House is properly pushed through to make one complete and effective health care reform bill!

Anonymous 10/14/2009 3:35am
Link Reply
+ -2

Healthcare is not a fundmental human right.
If people really want change get rid of the HMOs, make all out of pocket medical costs a 100% tax credit, and end the Bush/Obama wars to save money. No one mentions these things.
Also Obama just sent 15,000 unannounced new troops oversees. In addition to the 21,000 that he already sent. Could that money be spent on healthcare?

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