Senate Parliamentarian has ruled Reconciliation Can’t Be Used For Passing Health Care into Law

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Oops! Now the Senate Parliamentarian tells Republicans that reconciliation can’t be used to pass health care into law. He says the bill must first “be law” before reconciliation can be used to “tweak” it.

Ruling Kills an Option for Moving Health Bill

The Senate Parliamentarian has ruled that President Barack Obama must sign Congress’ original health care reform bill (into law) before the Senate can act on a companion reconciliation package, senior GOP sources said Thursday. (Oops!)

The Senate Parliamentarian’s Office was responding to questions posed by the Republican leadership. The answers were provided verbally, sources said.

House Democratic leaders have been searching for a way to ensure that any move they make to approve the Senate-passed $871 billion health care reform bill is followed by Senate action on a reconciliation package of adjustments to the original bill. One idea is to have the House and Senate act on reconciliation prior to House action on the Senate’s original health care bill.

Information Republicans say they have received from the Senate Parliamentarian’s Office eliminates that option. House Democratic leaders last week began looking at crafting a legislative rule that would allow the House to approve the Senate health care bill, but not forward it to Obama for his signature until the Senate clears the reconciliation package.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moved Thursday to put Senate Republicans on the defensive over health care, sending a letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in which he dared the GOP to vote against reform.

Reid also defended the Democrats’ use of reconciliation to get a final health care reform bill to the president’s desk, noting that the bulk of health care reform was approved under regular order via the package that cleared the Senate on Christmas Eve. Reid also emphasized that Republicans have used the procedure several times over the years.

However, Reid also promised in the letter that Republicans would have ample opportunity to amend the reconciliation package.

“Reconciliation is designed to deal with budget-related matters, and some have expressed doubt that it could be used for comprehensive health care reform that includes many policies with no budget implications. But the reconciliation bill now under consideration would not be the vehicle for comprehensive reform — that bill already passed outside of reconciliation with 60 votes,” Reid wrote to McConnell.

“Reconciliation will not exclude Republicans from the legislative process. You will continue to have an opportunity to offer amendments and change the shape of the legislation. In addition, at the end of the process, the bill can pass only if it wins a democratic, up-or-down majority vote. If Republicans want to vote against a bill that reduces health care costs, fills the prescription drug ‘donut hole’ for seniors and reduces the deficit, you will have every right to do so,” he said.

Roll Call.com

Dr. Milton Wolf-Barack Obama’s Cousin Speaks Against Obamacare

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Well now among all the other problems with passing National Health Care here comes Obama’s second cousin who is a doctor (Milton Wolf) saying things against Obamcare.

Dr. Milton Wolf-Barack Obama’s Cousin Speaks Against Obamacare

By Dr. Milton R. Wolf

“Primum nil nocere.” First, do no harm. This guiding principle is a bedrock of medical care. Sadly, those politicians who would rewrite our health care laws do not live in the same universe as do the doctors and health care professionals who must practice it.

Imagine if, like physicians, politicians were personally held to the incredibly high level of scrutiny that includes civil and financial liability for any unintended consequence of their decisions. Imagine if they were forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year on malpractice insurance and still faced the threat of multimillion-dollar lawsuits with every single decision they made. If so, a government takeover of health care would be the furthest thing from their minds.

Obamacare proponents would have us believe that we will add 30 million patients to the system without adding providers, we will see no decline in the quality of care for the millions of Americans currently happy with the system, and -if you act now!- we will save money in the process. But why stop there? Why not promise it will no longer rain on weekends and every day will be a great hair day?

America has the finest health care delivery system in the world. Let’s not forget that and put it at risk in the name of reform. Desperate souls across the globe flock to our shores and cross our borders every day to seek our care. Why? Our system provides cures while the government-run systems from which they flee do not. Compare Europe’s common cancer mortality rates to America’s: breast cancer – 52 percent higher in Germany and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom; prostate cancer – a staggering 604 percent higher in the United Kingdom and 457 percent higher in Norway; colon cancer – 40 percent higher in the United Kingdom.

Look closer at the United Kingdom. Britain’s higher cancer mortality rate results in 25,000 more cancer deaths per year compared to a similar population size in the United States. But because the U.S. population is roughly five times larger than the United Kingdom’s, that would translate into 125,000 unnecessary American cancer deaths every year. This is more than all the mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, cousins and children in Topeka, Kan. And keep in mind, these numbers are for cancer alone. America also has better survival rates for other major killers, such as heart attacks and strokes. Whatever we do, let us not surrender the great gains we have made. First, do no harm. Lives are at stake.

Obamacare: Fixing price at any cost

The justification for Obamacare has been to control costs, but the problem is there is little in Obamacare that will do that. Instead, there are provisions that will ration care and artificially set price. This is a confusion of costs and price.

As one example, consider the implications of Obamacare’s financial penalty aimed at your doctor if he seeks the expert care he has determined you need. If your doctor is in the top 10 percent of primary care physicians who refer patients to specialists most frequently – no matter how valid the reasons – he will face a 5 percent penalty on all their Medicare reimbursements for the entire year. This scheme is specifically designed to deny you the chance to see a specialist. Each year, the insidious nature of that arbitrary 10 percent rule will make things even worse as 100 percent of doctors try to stay off that list. Many doctors will try to avoid the sickest patients, and others will simply refuse to accept Medicare. Already, 42 percent of doctors have chosen that route, and it will get worse. Your mother’s shiny government-issued Medicare health card is meaningless without doctors who will accept it.

Obamacare will further diminish access to health care by lowering reimbursements for medical care without regard to the costs of that care. Price controls have failed spectacularly wherever they’ve been tried. They have turned neighborhoods into slums and have caused supply chains to dry up when producers can no longer profit from providing their goods. Remember the Carter-era gas lines? Medical care is not immune from this economic reality. We cannot hope that our best and brightest will pursue a career in medicine, setting aside years of their lives – for me, 13 years of school and training – to enter a field that might not even pay for the student loans it took to get there.

Giving power back to people

I believe there is a better way. The problems in the American health care system are not caused by a shortage of government intrusion. They will not be solved by more government intrusion. In fact, our current problems were precisely, though unintentionally, created by government.

World War II-era wage-control measures – a form of price controls – ushered in a perverted system in which we turn to our employers for insurance and the government penalizes us if we choose to purchase insurance for ourselves. You are not given the opportunity to be a wise consumer of health care and compare prices as well as quality in any meaningful way. Worse still, your insurance company is not answerable to you because you are not its customer. It is answerable to your employer, whose interests differ from your own.

Insurance companies have been vilified for following the perverse rules that government has created for them. But it gets worse. The government, always knowing best, deploys insurance commissioners across the land to dictate what the insurance companies must provide, whether you want it or not, and each time, your premiums increase. Obamacare will make all of this worse, not better.

One of America’s founding principles is our trust in the people and their economic freedom to rule their own lives. We should decouple health insurance from employers and empower patients to be consumers once again. Allow them to determine the insurance plan that best meets their families’ needs and which company will provide it. This will unleash a wave of competition that will drive costs down in a way that price controls never have. Eliminate the artificial state boundary rules that protect insurance companies from true competition and watch as voters demand that their state insurance commissioners get the heck out of the way. Innovative companies will drive down costs similar to how Geico and Progressive have worked for automobile insurance. And it won’t cost taxpayers a trillion dollars in the process.

This free-market approach has worked for everything from high-definition TVs to breakfast cereals, but will it work for medicine? It already is. Take Lasik eye surgery, for example. Because patients are allowed to be informed consumers and can shop anywhere, doctors work hard for their business. Services, availability and expertise have all increased, and costs have decreased. Should consumers demand it, insurance companies – now answerable to you rather than your employer – would cover it.

Between Barack and a hard place

I have personally trained and practiced in both the government-run and free-market segments of American medicine. The difference is vast. Patients see this for themselves, and this may be why, according to a recent CNN poll, they oppose Obamacare nearly 3 to 1. I am with them. It is difficult for me to speak publicly against the president on his central issue, but too much is at stake.

I wish my cousin Barack the greatest of success in office. But I feel duty-bound to rise in opposition to Obamacare. I must take a stand for my patients, my profession and, ultimately, my country. The problems caused by government will not be solved by growing government. Now that this new era of big-government takeovers has spread to our health care system, it’s not just our freedoms or our wallets that are at stake. It’s our lives.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a radiologist in Kansas. He is Barack Obama’s second cousin once removed. President Obama’s great-great grandfather, Thomas Creekmore McCurry, is Dr. Wolf’s great-grandfather. Dr. Wolf’s mother, Anna Margaret McCurry, was five years older than Mr. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. The two were childhood friends until the Dunhams moved from Kansas to Seattle in 1955.

Washington Times.com

Joe Biden Can Single-Handedly Run The Reconciliation Process: Parliamentarian Experts

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This is from MSNBC  and Huffington Post  which I don’t normally use, but I think in this case they explain it pretty good.  This time I’m using both in one post, what is wrong with me?  I just don’t understand why these liberal Democrats are so hell bent on passing something that the American people don’t want. Even a recent poll said 75% were against reconciliation. So why are these Democrats still pressing the issue on after wasting almost the compete first year of Obama’s  presidency ?

Joe Biden Can Single-Handedly Run The Reconciliation Process According to Parliamentarian Experts

Should passing health care reform come down to the use of reconciliation — and all signs point that way — Vice President Joseph Biden could play a hugely influential role in determining not only what’s in the bill but whether or not it passes.

Two experts in the arcane rules of the Senate said on Monday that, as president of the Senate, Biden has the capacity not just to overrule any ruling that the parliamentarian may make but also to cut off efforts by Republicans to offer unlimited amendments.

“Ultimately it’s the Vice President of the United States [who has the power over the reconciliation process],” Robert Dove, who served as Senate parliamentarian on and off from 1981-2001, told MSNBC this morning. “It is the decision of the Vice President whether or not to play a role here… And I have seen Vice Presidents play that role in other very important situations… The parliamentarian can only advise. It is the vice president who rules.”

Dove’s point is complex but important. With respect to health care reform, Senate Democrats are likely to offer a package of legislative amendments that they will ask to have passed using reconciliation. The Senate parliamentarian will then make a ruling as to whether or not those changes satisfy the conditions for reconciliation’s use (essentially, that they have a budgetary impact). But that ruling does not become the de facto law of the chamber. Biden can choose whether or not to accept the parliamentarian’s decision or rule that more or fewer amendments can be passed through reconciliation. That ruling is subject to appeal — but the appeal is decided by majority vote.

But Biden’s powers don’t end there. As Dove noted, the minority party does have the ability to offer unlimited amendments during the reconciliation process (ostensibly, as a way to hold up the process).

“At the end of the 20 hours you can offer as many amendments as you can scribble out,” said Dove.

However, Biden, as president of the Senate, could effectively put an end to that process by ruling that the amendments are not germane to the legislation and ordering the chamber to proceed to an up or down vote.

“The vice president can rule that amendments are dilatory,” Norm Ornstein, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and one of the foremost experts on congressional process, told the Huffington Post. “That they are not serious attempts to amend the bill but are designed without substance to obstruct. He can rule them out of order and he can do that on bloc.”

“There are time limits,” Ornstein added. “It is not that they can keep doing it over and over again.”

As Ornstein added, there are potential downsides to the vice president wielding any of these two institutional powers. For starters, it further politicizes a process that is already being criticized as overly political. Moreover, it could spur serious discussion of whether the Obama administration is engaged in an institutional power grab and/or upheaval of Congress. As Dove noted, in a follow up email to the Huffington Post: “I said the VP COULD have the final say–but no VP since Hubert Humphrey has ruled in any instance against the advice of the Parliamentarian.”

Indeed, when the Bush administration was trying to get its tax cuts passed through reconciliation and the parliamentarian ruled that they did not qualify, Republicans didn’t turn to former Vice President Dick Cheney to steer the process. Instead, they fired the parliamentarian and found a more sympathetic one. That fired parliamentarian was none other than Robert Dove.

Nevertheless, the powers that Biden has over Senate process could play a significant role durin the debate process — and potentially prove critical to getting health care reform through Congress.

“Biden would have some power here,” Ornstein summarized. “But again, this is not a power that you want to exercise. But it is one that exists.”

MSNBC.com

Poll: Majority oppose reconciliation

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Of course this won’t matter to Obama….he made that pretty clear today during the summit  that it’s his way or the highway. His definition of “bipartisan” is the Republicans giving in to his proposal, then it’s bipartisan. Now you see why some states are preparing to “opt out”, because despite the rhetoric from Obama, national health care is coming one way or the other…..by hook or crook and the later seems like the way it will come now.

Poll: Majority oppose reconciliation

A new poll suggests that a majority of Americans would oppose a move by Senate Democrats to use a parliamentary procedure called ‘reconciliation’ to avoid a Republican filibuster and pass their health care reform legislation by a simple majority vote.

A Gallup survey released Thursday morning indicates that 52 percent of the public opposes using reconciliation, with 39 percent favoring the move, and 9 percent unsure.

At Thursday’s health care summit, in his opening remarks, Republican spokesman Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee urged the Democrats not to use reconciliation to ram the measure through Congress.

Alexander asked President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders to “renounce this idea of going back to Congress, and jamming through a partisan vote through a little used process we call reconciliation your version of the bill. You can say that this process has been used before, and that would be right. But it’s never been used for anything like this. It’s not appropriate to use (reconciliation) to write the rules for 17 percent of the economy.”

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, admitted that Democrats did talk Wednesday morning about using “reconciliation” to move health care legislation.

Senate Majority Harry Reid also defended the tactic at Thursday’s summit.

“Since 1981, reconciliation has been used 21 times and most of it has been used by Republicans, for major things like much of the Contract for America, medicare reform, the tax cuts for rich people in America. So reconciliation is not something that’s never been done before,” Reid said.

Reconciliation is a process, limited to budget-related bills, that bypasses the Senate rule on 60 votes being needed to end debate, known as cloture. By using reconciliation, only a majority vote would be needed to advance a bill. There are currently 57 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party in the Senate. Republican Scott Brown’s victory in last month’s special senate election in Massachusetts gave his party 41 votes in the chamber.

The Gallup poll was conducted Tuesday, with 1,009 adults questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

CNN.com


Paul Ryan slams the Democratic Health Care Bill

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If your not familiar with Paul Ryan, then your missing a lot of wisdom. He is great with things about the budget. Paul Ryan artfully and expertly exposes all of the gimmicks in the Democratic health care bill and how does the President respond? …………Well, he doesn’t really want to get bogged down in numbers. Which means the president doesn’t want to challenge him on live TV because he knows what Paul Ryan is capable of doing relative to the numbers and budgets.

Paul Ryan slams the Democratic Health Care Bill


BIG Threats on Health Care this Week

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BIG Threats on Health Care this Week and Tele Townhall Tonight at 7:30PM EST

It was bad enough when President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid tried to pass their health care takeover through vote-buying, closed-door meetings, and strong-arm tactics.  But what they’re doing now is even worse…

Right now, Obama, Pelosi and Reid are working to ram their Washington takeover through Congress – without a real vote – using a parliamentary trick called “reconciliation.”

Democrats are hosting a sham “summit” this Thursday to “re-package” their failed plan before they attempt to force it through using “reconciliation.”  The result of their dishonest maneuver:  only 51 votes will be needed in the Senate instead of the 60 required by the long-established rule of law.

Working with grassroots allies, Americans for Prosperity has a plan to defeat this threat:

1. Please join us for an Emergency Tele-town Hall TONIGHT at 7:30PM Eastern to discuss this threat and our strategy to defeat it.  Dial (888)886-6603, Ext. # 14152.  Your direct involvement and input is critical to our success.  There’s no charge to you for joining this call.

2. If you can make it to Washington this Thursday, please stand with us as we protest right outside the gates of the DC mansion where Obama, Pelosi and Reid are hosting their sham “summit.”  We’ll meet at 9:30AM outside the Blair House (across from the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the White House ) to greet members of Congress as they arrive.  Then, we’ll hold our own Patients’ Summit at the J.W. Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue, just a couple blocks away.  We’ll provide lunch and we’ll be joined by great speakers including Congressmen Tom Price and John Shadegg, Colin Hanna from Let Freedom Ring, and others.  (You can RSVP to watch in person or at home by CLICKING HERE.)

3. Just know that this Thursday beginning bright and early I’m asking you to call, email and if possible visit the district office of your Senators and House member to tell them they better not use the dishonest procedure called “reconciliation” to force through their big government health care takeover.  And, please forward this information to your friends.

If you can’t be there in Washington, you can still participate.  Just log onto www.AmericansForProsperity.org to view our LIVE web-cast starting at 11:30AM.

We’ve worked too hard to give up now and let the Left force this agenda through Congress with a legislative trick.  The American people have already rejected a government takeover of our health care, time and time again.  Let’s make it clear that we’re not falling for the Left’s slick advertising campaigns – and that those who support them or stand aside while they subvert democracy will pay a huge price.

AmericansforProsperity.org

What’s Not Wrong with Health Care in the U.S.

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People are always telling me the US’s health care system ranks #37 in the world just above Cuba at #39 using the United Nations 2000 World Health Report. What they don’t realize is this report according to the United Nations has  an 80% uncertainty level in their data and none of the five criteria included actual health outcomes, such as cancer or heart attack survival rates.  All of the report is skewed toward countries that have government health care already, so they automatically get a better rating. The WHO statistics are flawed because the authors incorporated their own biases into the statistics’ construction.

The rankings are based on general health of the population, access, patient satisfaction and how the care’s paid for.

Including the mode of payment when measuring the system’s performance is assuming what you’re trying to prove. (socialized medicine is superior)

Here’s an article that explains most of how the UN tabulates it’s report. Hold on to your hat.

What’s Not Wrong with Health Care in the U.S.

by Dr. Roger Stark
Health Care Policy Analyst
January 2009


Change is coming to the health care system in this country. At $2.1 trillion per year, or 17% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), cost should be the driver for this movement to reform our current system.

As the debate continues on in the next few months, however, a number of other arguments will be used to indict our present mix of public and private programs. Many of these arguments are based on a faulty presentation of the facts, so let’s look at the actual data and see what is not wrong with our health care system.

First of all, we hear a lot about how terrible the infant mortality rate is in the United States, with supposedly the worst in the civilized world.  Is this true?  Not really.  U.S. health officials count all live births, while many other countries only count full-term births or infants who live at least 28 days.  Obviously, premature infants, who are counted in the U.S., but not in other countries, have a much higher risk of mortality.

Second, it is repeatedly said that people in the U.S. do not live as long as in other countries. Again, this is true. However, deaths from homicide and accidents distort the picture.  When the data is adjusted for these categories, life expectancy in the U.S. is as high as in other countries.  Homicide and trauma certainly reflect a country’s social problems, but they tell us little about a country’s health care system.

Third, we hear that each year there are nearly 100,000 unnecessary hospital deaths in the U.S., a clear indictment of our health care quality.  A panel of physicians reviewed the hospital data, however, and found that the great majority of these deaths occurred at the end of the patient’s natural life, when the outcome would have been the same regardless of what hospital staff did or did not do.  In other countries, these older, desperately ill people might not even be sent to a hospital, dying instead at home, and are thus not included in national medical statistics.

A comparable study in Canada, adjusted for population size, found 200,000 “unnecessary” hospital deaths, even though political activists regularly push Canadian-style health care for the U.S.

Fourth, we hear people are often forced to declare bankruptcy because of medical bills.  It turns out advocates count any bankruptcy case involving even a single medical bill, whether or not health costs had anything to do with causing the bankruptcy.

Also, people ages 55 to 65, who have more personal control over their health coverage, are less likely to declare bankruptcy, while people over 65, who are on government-run Medicare, have seen a doubling of their bankruptcy rate.  In the case of the elderly, tax-funded health care has not reduced financial problems for older Americans.

Fifth, what about the 45.7 million uninsured? Who are they, and are medical costs and availability the reasons they don’t have health insurance? If we look at the actual numbers, it turns out that one-third of these people are eligible for existing government programs (Medicare, Medicaid, S-CHIP, etc.) but haven’t applied. Half of this 45.7 million are transitioning between jobs, and nearly one-fourth of the total are not U.S. citizens.

It turns out advocates count anyone who was without health coverage at any time during a calendar year.

Out of the entire 45.7 million, only about 8 million are chronically uninsured. This represents less than 5% of our total population. While an important number, it is arguably not large enough to be the primary motivator for an entire government overhaul of our health care system that would impact the other 95% of our population.

Last we are told we rank 37th in health care compared to other countries.  This figure comes from the U.N.’s World Health Organization.  Three of the five criteria to rate nations were biased in favor of nationalized, single-payer systems, and the U.N. admitted they had an 80% uncertainty level in their data.  Amazingly, none of the five criteria included actual health outcomes, such as cancer or heart attack survival rates.

Because the U.S. does not have total, nationalized health care, our system was severely disadvantaged before the study began. Any health study that ranks Greece (#14), Columbia (#22), and Morocco (#29) ahead of the U.S. clearly has serious methodological problems.

Any debate about how to improve health care needs serious research honestly presented, not skewed data or false comparisons with other countries.  Using the arguments discussed above only serves to shift our focus away from the real problems – overregulation and high costs.  Only when the system re-connects patients with control of their own health care dollars, and when decisions about care are made by doctors talking with patients, not by government program managers, will we be in a position to control costs and extend coverage to the chronically uninsured.

WashingtonPolicy.org

White House: If GOP Filibusters, We’ll Pass Health Reform Via Reconciliation

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Well Steve and readers it just keeps looking like the Democrats think they know better than we do that we need a nationalized/socialized health care plan.  Even if we think we don’t want it~ well the Democratic leadership is going to see that one way or the other it is passed into law regardless.  This reminds me of the way the mob runs things. First the president wants a summit with the Republicans to work something out. Now he says ahead of the “summit” , that  it’s our way or the highway for the Republicans (what was all that talk about bipartisan politics ?) , but now the president threatens the Republicans that if they don’t go along with their plan~ well they’ll just do it by reconciliation. Now you tell me, just who does this make look like their partisan? In other words piecemeal the legislation with a simple majority vote into law. Isn’t this just so sweet of them, force feeding us all that “change”.  Those type shenanigans cause things like this from the States:

Tenn. Senate votes to opt out of federal health insurance mandate, require AG legal challenge

White House: If GOP Filibusters, We’ll Pass Health Reform Via Reconciliation

In the course of unveiling Obama’s new health reform proposal on a conference call with reporters this morning, White House advisers made it clearer than ever before: If the GOP filibusters health reform, Dems will move forward on their own and pass it via reconciliation.

The assertion, which is likely to spark an angry response from GOP leaders, ups the stakes in advance of the summit by essentially daring Republicans to try to block reform. (now is that a threat or what?)

“The President expects and believes the American people deserve an up or down vote on health reform,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said on the call.

Pfeiffer said no decision had been made how to proceed, pending the outcome of the summit. (Sounds to me like the decision has been made~vote this bill in one way or the other!) But he added that Obama’s proposal is designed to have “maximum flexibility to ensure that we can get an up or down vote if the opposition decides to take the extraordinary step of filibustering health reform.”

Translation: If the GOP doesn’t cooperate with us in any meaningful sense, we’re moving forward on our own.

Also on the call, White House advisers detailed Obama’s new proposal, which was just posted on the White House web site, and discussed the ways it seeks a compromise between the Senate and House proposals. Among the details:

* As expected, the plan has no public option (this is in order to get it  passed)but this does not preclude a reconciliation vote on the public option later.

* The proposal boosts the threshold for the “Cadillac” tax on the most expensive health plans from $23,000 for a family plan to $27,500. That’s actually a better deal than some labor officials were expecting, though some House Dems will still be angry that the tax is being included at all.

* The proposal also preserves the Senate bill’s state-based exchanges, and does not have a national exchange, as the House bill did.

* However, House Dems will be cheered by the fact that Obama’s compromise closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” coverage gap.

* Also, the bill nixes Ben Nelson’s Nebraska deal and boosts Federal financing for Medicaid expansion in all states. ( So by Federal financing they’re trying to buy approval by the States~what else is new.)

* And finally, as expected, Obama’s proposal creates a Federal panel to monitor and block exorbitant rate hikes and other unfair practices by the insurance industry. (To heck with the Insurance companies making a profit, even tho their expenses go up ~not to mention this would push us closer to a single pay system (which is what they want, in other words complete government run health care.)

One final note: On the call, Pfeiffer was careful to note that the proposal is not the product of an agreement between the House and Senate, but rather is “the President’s bill.(So if this is the case “the president’s bill”,  this is not reconciliation per se, but a completely new bill that has or should (if we go by the Constitution) be voted on again by both the House and Senate. Am I correct here Steve or any readers?) This is meant to preclude GOP efforts to cast the proposal as the product of a backroom deal. The lines are drawn.

**************************************

Update: Eric Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring emails a response:

The Obama plan costs a trillion dollars, puts government in control of personal health decisions, and allows the government to set prices in the private market. That mirrors the Pelosi/Reid plans that have already been soundly rejected by the bipartisan majority of Americans.

Update II: A new batch of polls shows that it may make political sense for Dems to pass the public option via reconciliation.

theplumline.whorunsgov.com

Scott Brown swearing-in would be stalled to pass health-care reform

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Well here you are Steve. If the Republicans should win in Massachusetts replacing Ted Kennedy’s seat they say they’ll stall the swearing in ceremony until Obamacare is voted on.

Scott Brown swearing-in would be stalled to pass health-care reform


It looks like the fix is in on national health-care reform – and it all may unfold on Beacon Hill.

At a business forum in Boston Friday, interim Sen. Paul Kirk predicted that Congress would pass a health-care reform bill this month.

“We want to get this resolved before President Obama’s State of the Union address in early to mid-February,” Kirk told reporters at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

The longtime aide and confidant of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was handpicked by Gov. Deval Patrick after a controversial legal change to hold Kennedy’s seat, vowed to vote for the bill even if Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, who opposes the health-care reform legislation, prevails in a Jan. 19 special election.

“Absolutely,” Kirk said, when asked if he’d vote for the bill, even if Brown captures the seat. “It would be my responsibility as United States senator, representing the people and understanding Senator Kennedy’s agenda. . . . I think you’re asking me a hypothetical question but I’d be pleased to vote for the bill.”

Few have considered the Jan. 19 election as key to the fate of national health-care reform because both Kirk and front-runner state Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee, have vowed to uphold Kennedy’s legacy and support health-care reform.

But if Brown wins, the entire national health-care reform debate may hinge on when he takes over as senator. Brown has vowed to be the crucial 41st vote in the Senate that would block the bill.

The U.S. Senate ultimately will schedule the swearing-in of Kirk’s successor, but not until the state certifies the election.

Friday, a spokesman for Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, who is overseeing the election but did not respond to a call seeking comment, said certification of the Jan. 19 election by the Governor’s Council would take a while.

“Because it’s a federal election,” spokesman Brian McNiff said. “We’d have to wait 10 days for absentee and military ballots to come in.”

Another source told the Herald that Galvin’s office has said the election won’t be certified until Feb. 20 – well after the president’s address.(But if this guy was a Democrat, then that would be a different story, they would make sure a Democrat was fast tracked and swore in fast enough to vote for health care and they wouldn’t be so worried about the absentee or military votes then.I guarantee you that!)

Since the U.S. Senate doesn’t meet again in formal session until Jan. 20, Bay State voters will have made their decision before a vote on health-care reform could be held. But Kirk and Galvin’s office said Friday a victorious Brown would be left in limbo.

In contrast, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) was sworn in at the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 18, 2007, just two days after winning a special election to replace Martin Meehan. In that case, Tsongas made it to Capitol Hill in time to override a presidential veto of the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Friday, Brown, who has been closing the gap with Coakley in polls and fund raising, blasted the political double standard.

“This is a stunning admission by Paul Kirk and the Beacon Hill political machine,” said Brown in a statement. “Paul Kirk appears to be suggesting that he, Deval Patrick, and (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid intend to stall the election certification until the health care bill is rammed through Congress, even if that means defying the will of the people of Massachusetts. As we’ve already seen from the backroom deals and kickbacks cut by the Democrats in Washington, they intend to do anything and everything to pass their controversial health care plan. But threatening to ignore the results of a free election and steal this Senate vote from the people of Massachusetts takes their schemes to a whole new level. Martha Coakley should immediately disavow this threat from one of her campaign’s leading supporters.”

A spokeswoman for Coakley’s campaign declined to comment Friday.

Boston Herald.com

White House to State AGs: No ‘Legitimate Constitutional Concerns’ in Senate Health Care Bill

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What a joke this is. What would one expect the federal government to say about a bill they were about to pass into law? No it’s not Constitutional, but we’re going to pass it anyway? Of course not. They would be expected now days to rationalize it.

White House to State AGs: No ‘Legitimate Constitutional Concerns’ in Senate Health Care Bill


White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House on Tuesday dismissed the concerns of 13 state attorneys general about the constitutionality of a clause in the Senate health care bill that singles out Nebraska for special treatment when it comes to covering the cost of expanding Medicaid coverage.

While stating that he had not read a letter from the attorneys general about the issue, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs nonetheless told CNSNews.com, “I do not believe that anybody has legitimate constitutional concerns about the legislation.”

Following are just some of the payoffs and kickbacks Sen. Reid is forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for so he can increase health care costs, raise taxes, cut seniors’ Medicare benefits, and put government bureaucrats in charge of medical decisions:

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) “Louisiana Purchase.” CBS News reports: “It started with Mary Landrieu. When reports surfaced she had been swayed with a $100 million Medicaid deal just for Louisiana, she bragged it was actually $300 million. The deal was so notorious, Republicans gave it a name. ‘We have new words in our lexicon, the Louisiana Purchase,’ Sen. John McCain said.”

Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-NE) $100 Million “Cornhusker Kickback.” The Hill reports: “Nebraska will receive $100 million in assistance for its Medicaid program under provisions in the Senate’s healthcare bill negotiated by Sen. Ben Nelson (D).”

Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) & Carl Levin’s (D-MI) Sweetheart Deal for Nebraska/Michigan Insurance Companies. Politico reports: “In addition to the Medicaid carve out, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) negotiated an exemption from the insurance tax for non-profit insurers based in his state. The language was written in a way that only Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield nonprofit plans in Nebraska and Michigan, would qualify, according to a Democratic Senate aide.”

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) Takes Credit for $100 Million Hospital Earmark. The Associated Press reports: “A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night.” (Since this was written Sen. Dodd has announced he will be one of the many not running for re-election in 2010…I wonder why?)

Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) Inserts Provision for ACORN Funding. The Weekly Standard reports: “Senator Roland Burris is claiming credit for a provision in Harry Reid’s ‘manager’s amendment,’ unveiled Saturday morning, that could funnel money to ACORN through the health care bill.”

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Secures $600 Million Medicaid Kickback. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., negotiated $600 million in additional Medicaid benefits for his state over 10 years. He said Vermont is due the additional benefits because the state already has acted to expand Medicaid eligibility to the levels now contemplated by the federal government. Vermont would be unfairly penalized if other states are now being helped with that expansion, he said.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) Scores $10 Billion for Community Health Centers. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was angered after a new government-run health plan was dropped from the legislation to win over moderates like Nelson and Landrieu, held out on backing the bill until Reid, D-Nev., agreed to a $10 billion increase in support for community health centers.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) Negotiates Special Deal for Florida Medicare Advantage Recipients. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., pushed a provision he said will let about 800,000 Florida seniors enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans keep their extra benefits. It also helps seniors in a handful of other states. Elsewhere, Medicare Advantage patients risk losing benefits because the private plans are a major target of planned cuts to Medicare.”

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) Scores Extra Medicare Benefits for Montana Residents. The Associated Press reports: “Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee and a key architect of the legislation, put in a provision to help the 2,900 residents of Libby, Mont., many of whom have asbestos-related illnesses from a now-defunct mineral mine. Under Baucus’ provision, which never mentions Libby by name, sickened residents could sign up for Medicare benefits.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) Wins More Medicare Funding for Iowa Hospitals. The Wall Street Journal reports: “One change won by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) would increase Medicare payments to medium-size hospitals, including eight in his state. Mr. Harkin said such ‘tweener’ hospitals are short-changed by the current system.”

Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) & Kent Conrad (D-ND) Win Higher Medicare Payments for Rural Hospitals . The Washington Post reports: “The Senate health-care bill has been full of goodies handed out to buy/earn the vote of various senators. … Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad’s higher Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors in the ‘frontier counties’ of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.”

Attorneys general in 13 states signed a Dec. 30 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that was circulated by South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster. The letter labels the Nebraska deal the “cornhusker kickback” and says it is unconstitutional to require the taxpayers of 49 states to subsidize federal benefits for one state. Medicaid is a federal-state health insurance program for the poor. (See previous story.)

When asked if President Barack Obama supported the Nebraska clause, which reportedly would save the state $45 million over a decade, Gibbs did not directly answer but told CNSNews.com, “He’s a supporter of the Senate bill, so I don’t know what that will lead you to conclude.”

The House bill includes a government-run health insurance plan (“public option”) that would compete with private insurers. It also specifically bans federal funding for any health plan that covers abortion.

The Senate bill does not have a government-run plan, and does allow for federal funding of health plans that cover abortion. Both bills mandate that employers provide and individuals carry health insurance, and that the government establish a “health care exchange” to allow individuals to choose from different insurance-coverage policies.

In their Dec. 30 letter to the Democratic leaders, the attorneys general wrote: “It has been reported that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson’s vote, for H.R. 3590 [Senate health care bill], was secured only after striking a deal that the federal government would bear the cost of newly eligible Medicaid enrollees.”

“In marked contrast, all other states would not be similarly treated, and instead would be required to allocate substantial sums, potentially totaling billions of dollars, to accommodate H.R. 3590’s new Medicaid mandates,” reads the letter.

“As a practical matter, the deal struck by the United States Senate on the ‘Nebraska Compromise’ is a disadvantage to the citizens of 49 states,” the letter says. “Every state’s tax dollars except Nebraska’s, will be devoted to cost-sharing required by the bill, and will be therefore unavailable for other essential state programs.”

The letter also includes the signatures of attorneys general from Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington state.

CNS News.com

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