A False Sense of Hope
By Donna Garner - September 9, 2009
Skip down toTracking the Healthcare Legislation
Undoubtedly Obama and the liberal Democrats in Congress are trying to make the American patriots think they have won. The headlines yesterday screamed, "The public option is dead." Not so.First, we must remember that co-ops are just a backdoor approach to the public option. Co-ops would be controlled by the Obama administration. They would set up the co-ops with our federal dollars, would establish pricing mandates for doctors/hospitals, would create a priority list for care (a.k.a., rationed care), would bail out the co-ops with our federal dollars if they run into financial trouble, and would allow them to remake themselves into for-profit entities at will. In truth, co-ops would drive public healthcare companies out of business.As Republican Sen. Charles Grassley said yesterday, "The government is not a fair competitor. It's a predator."Second, even though Sen. Baucus' Senate Finance Committee is getting most of the attention right now, we need to remember that H. R. 3200 is still very much in the mix and so is the Kennedy Senate Bill (America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 -- HELP) passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, Pensions Committee (Sen. Chris Dodd, Chair) on July 15, 2009.Senators Rockefeller and Schumer say they will continue to press for the public option. Sen. Harry Reid is to take both of the Senate committee bills, meld them into one final Senate bill, and send it to the conference committee where the House version, H. R. 3200, awaits. H. R. 3200 contains the public option.Tracking the Healthcare Legislation
Tracking major legislation through Congress is very confusing, and healthcare reform is particularly complex because it involves many different Senate and House committees. The House bill (H. R. 3200) pushed through Congress largely by the Democrats deals with over one-seventh (18% of GDP) of our nation's economy and is meant to socialize our entire healthcare system.
H. R. 3200 creates 53 new government agencies, mentions “shall” 1,683 times, “taxes” 172 times, and “penalties” 156 times. If H. R. 3200 were to pass, this socialized healthcare system would be almost impossible to sustain financially; the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated the cost would be $1.04 Trillion over ten years. Unfortunately, a huge entitlement program such as this would be almost impossible to reverse for decades to come.
Frequently bills pass through Congress that have little direct impact on us individually, but healthcare is different; it touches each one of us directly and personally. H. R. 3200 would put Big Government between us and our doctors with bureaucrats making most of our healthcare decisions.
To simplify this confusing maze of numerous bills and "cast of characters," I have written a brief explanation of the process. Because I am not a legislative scholar nor a lawyer, you will need to verify the following information for yourselves. I have included the links for this purpose.
HEALTHCARE LEGISLATION: HOUSE
The Chairmen of the three House Committees with jurisdiction over health policy introduced their comprehensive healthcare reform legislation on July 14, 2009. The name of the legislation is
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 and was sponsored by Rep. John Dingell, Democrat; co-sponsors were Reps. Andrews, Kildee, Maloney, Miller, Pallone, Rangel, Stark, Waxman -- all Democrats. The July 14, 2009, version (1,018 pages) can be viewed at: http://edlabor. house.gov/ documents/ 111/pdf/publicat ions/AAHCA- BillText- 071409.pdf
That bill was then referred to five House committees. The three most important committees are:
(1) House Committee on Education and Labor: Rep. George Miller, Democrat, Chairman
(2) House Committee on Ways and Means: Rep. Charles B. Rangel, Democrat, Chairman
(3) House Committee on Energy and Commerce: Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Democrat, Chairman
The two others are (4) House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Chair, Rep. Edolphus Towns, Democrat) and (5) House Committee on the Budget (Rep. John Spratt, Democrat).
The three main House committees (Education and Labor, Ways and Means, and Energy and Commerce) worked together to develop their healthcare proposals.
(1) House Committee on Education and Labor
The House Committee on Education and Labor passed H. R. 3200 on July 17, 2009: http://edlabor.
house.gov/and the amendments at: http://edlabor. documents/ 111/pdf/publicat ions/AAHCA- Reported- 080309.PDF house.gov/ markups/2009/ 07/hr-3200- americas- affordable- he.shtml
(2) House Committee on Ways and Means
The House Committee on Ways and Means passed H. R. 3200 on July 17, 2009:
(3) House Committee on Energy and Commerce
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is still working on amendments (a.k.a., "marking up") to H. R. 3200 and plans to finalize their bill and vote on it after the recess. [This is Rep. Waxman's committee, and he is supposedly negotiating with the Blue Dog Democrats.]
Next Step: The House Rules Committee
Next, the House Rules Committee will work with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat) and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Democrat Majority Leader) to meld the three committee versions into one bill. The Rules Committee will work on the principles of adding amendments, will test each amendment for germaneness, and will consider committee rules and the rules/precedents of the House.
Final Vote in the House
Then the full House will vote on its final healthcare bill.
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HEALTHCARE LEGISLATON: SENATE
Senate Health, Education, Labor, Pensions Committee
Senate Health, Education, Labor, Pensions Committee [a.k.a., HELP]: Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat, Chairman; ranking Republican, Michael B. Enzi
On July 15, 2009, the HELP committee voted on
America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (a.k.a., Kennedy Bill: http://help. senate.gov/ BAI09A84_ xml.pdf
Senate Finance Committee
Senate Finance Committee: Sen. Max Baucus, Democrat, Chairman; ranking Republican Charles E. Grassley
The Senate Finance Committee is in the process of finalizing its work in the next few days. This committee is charged with figuring out the taxes involved and the Medicare provisions needed to pay for the healthcare legislation. This is the committee that voted yesterday against Sen. John D. Rockefeller'
s public-option amendment (15 to 8) and Sen. Charles Schumer's public option amendment (13 to 10). Many other amendments are still in the offing.
Senate Democrat Leaders
Democrat leaders in the Senate (Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Richard J. Durbin) will try to merge the bills from the two Senate committees.
Final Vote in the Senate
The full Senate will vote on its final bill.
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A House-Senate conference committee will attempt to work out a compromise version as they consult with the White House. If the bill is then approved in identical form by both the House and the Senate, the bill would be sent to the President for his signature.
Donna Garner - firstname.lastname@example.org
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