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Congress Links -- Health Care Roundup

December 26, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Like Sen. John Thune [R, SD] pictured at right with his luggage outside at the Capitol, I had to get on a plane and leave for Christmas right after the Senate passed the health care bill Thursday morning. But some other bloggers kept blogging. Here’s a quick roundup of a few good follow up posts on health care from the past few days:

  • David Waldman has a great post on the process of reconciling the Senate and House health care bills. Republican objections to moving the bill to a conference committee, plus complicating factors caused by the Senate and House legislative vehicles, technically, having an infinite amount of difference, it looks likely that reconciliation will happen informally in private negotiations. There’s a lot to it — read the whole post. (Congress Matters).

  • Bruce Webb reports that a provision that could have a huge affect on the way health insurance companies conduct their business returned in the final version of the bill that passed the Senate. Language requiring insurance companies to spend at least 85% of premiums on actual health care – rather than advertising, profit, executive compensation, etc – was removed in the previous Senate bill, but reinserted in the “manager’s amendment” that formed the final deal that won unanimous support among Senate Democrats. According to Webb, “the language [of the provisions] is convoluted but the result is simple, insurance companies can no longer make money by ensuring people who don’t make claims.” (Angry Bear).

  • Paul Krugman addresses complaints from the left that the health care bill is not “real reform” by pointing to the huge new subsidies in the bill to help low and middle-income people purchase insurance. “Guys, this is a major program to aid lower- and lower-middle-income families. How is that not a big progressive victory?” See charts at the original post. (Paul Krugman).

  • Nate Silver has a good post describing the political dynamics in the House as Speaker Nancy Pelosi works to cobble together 218 votes to pass a health care reform bill that can still get 60 votes in the Senate. “Fortunately for Democrats, Pelosi is very good at her job. I don’t know exactly which 218 votes she’ll get. And she probably won’t get a lot more than 218. But the odds remain very high that she’ll get them somewhere.” (FiveThirtyEight).

  • Ezra Klein argues that after health care reform is finished, it’s time to reform the Senate by limiting the minority party’s ability to filibuster. “A world in which the majority can pass its agenda is a better one, a place where the majority party is held accountable for its ideas and not for the gridlock and inaction furnished by the Senate’s rules.” (Ezra Klein).

Follow along with OpenCongress’s uniquely-aggregated news and blog coverage, read the bills, view vote tallies and find much more information at the health care bill links below:

Senate Bill: H.R. 3590 – Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act>>

House Bill: H.R. 3962 – Affordable Care for America Act>>

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