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Short Take on the Health Bill Vote

category_bug_politics.gif So they finally passed the health care bill in the House yesterday. The few press stories I've had time to read this morning hail it as “historic” and I suppose, given the decades of failure, it is. But it is so far from what it should be and what it might have been that I don't feel much joy.

Not a single Republican in either house of Congress voted for this bill which means, one must assume, they, as a party and individually, do not believe everyone has a right to health care or that the insurance industry does have a right to mega-profits at sick people's expense or both.

Like many TGB readers, I have written and emailed and telephoned over the past year more times than I can count. I don't believe our efforts had much to do with the outcome. If they had, some Republicans would have voted aye.

The best there is to say is that it's a start. Oh, and I sure did learn a lot about how Congress works or, rather, doesn't. What's your take?


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Johna Ferguson: Magpies

Comments

I feel joy in this historic moment even though we could not get all that we wanted. I am proud of - love my President. His perseverance in the face of such intense back lash, unbelievable ignorance, and hateful bigotry.

Change happens with small, compromising steps. Bit by bit we evolve.

I wrote a post today on my blog and it was more about how sad I am that a segment of conservatives have so much fear and anger about this that they are somewhat dangerous. It is a part of society I thought was behind us. As liberals and moderates we are going to have to make sure our voices rise above the din.

I watched the whole thing unfold on CSPAN. I love CSPAN, with no commentary, one can see for themselves the childishness and lies of those people we voted to protect our lives. Scarey. And it speaks volumes. We need to get these idiots out!

The HCR bill is far from perfect but it is a start.


gave up a month ago, with the phone calls, money, etc. I hate the whole bunch.

I'd like to be happy about the healh care bill, but I can just not get over the sadness of just how dysfunctional our system has become. It IS broke and we do need to FIX it.

I'm in Estelle's camp right now. Not only am I sick of Congress, I am disappointed to learn that almost half of American citizens seem to be selfish, fear driven, ignorant, hypocritical, self-righteous, jingoistic, bigots.

I am very happy it passed because self employed people like us are losing insurance all over. For two friends of mine their premiums went to 24,000 a year. Just for them. And everyone I know is afraid of going to the doctor and ending up with a pre-existing condition. Which is just about anything.
They also passed changes to the student loan program, eliminating the money banks made on it. Banks of course, protested. I think it is amazing they managed to fix that one at the same time.

I hope Olga and Estelle have a very big tent because I think quite a few Americans are going to joining them.

I am happy the Health Care Bill passed,
but the process left me both sick and tired.

I can say only that Congress did the work of two men...LAUREL AND HARDY !

Well, I've decided to be optimistic about it, but only in terms that it's a start.

I've also blogged on the passage at Cab Drollery.

I hate to say this, because I know we're all tired, but it's time to get back to work. The Public Option is the next step.

Like you, I have signed petitions and emailed until I am tapped out. And yet there was another petition to sign this morning...to prod the Senate in their 'fixing' work for the bill. I do not think, like so many others, that my voice was ever heard. Only the voices of those filled with hate and bigotry made the news, giving them far too much power. The MSM and the political process are broken and I have no idea as to how they will ever be fixed. I see nothing more but the same for the next few years...or even longer

Nancy, la peregrina, estelle--
I'm with you three!!

I'm tired, disappointed, disgusted, angry, etc., etc., etc....

Perhaps when members of both sides stop all of the name-calling, accusations, demonizing, etc. (just look at the vitriol in the previous postings), we as a society can look at the benefits - and the costs - of what we all would like to see, and then make adult decisions on how to pay for them with today's dollars. But alas I have always been too idealistic.

I'm with Tamarika on this one. I feel enormously proud of not only Obama, but also Pelosi for getting this thru. In these difficult times and in spite of the disgusting tactics of the republicans, healthcare for all americans will finally be a right. Nearly 5 years ago, my son, at that time under my health insurance, was denied treatment for a life-threatening condition. It nearly destroyed me and my family financially and emotionally. I'll take this, even if it isn't the whole nine yards.

It helps to compare this with the civil rights movement. That was a long hard struggle making LBJ very unpopular & some even gave up their lives. So far the meanspiritedness hasn't gone that far, but it's ugly all the same. I'm taking a break from the media, they've not done well by shoving this down our throats every waking hour & thru the night as well. Dee

I was appalled by the appeals of the Republicans to people's emotions and hatreds - not that I'm particularly proud of the Democrats. But to hear their "it's the end of the world" statements - I am relieved that I am not represented by one of those nasty Congressman. I seriously believe there is a racist undertone to much of the antis.

And I hope that we can now make some progress so that people can get the health care they need at a reasonable cost.

It appears to be all they could have gotten for now and if they don't do more, it might show itself a disaster. They say they will and I hope we can trust them to fix the aspects that don't work or won't bring down costs. I was happy it passed but had quit telling my Representative what to vote as I felt it had enough negatives that he had to use his own judgment for what was best. I am very disillusioned with our political and corporate system and it has to be fixed but so many are sucking at that teat that I don't know that it will. It's a very selfish, short-sighted system as it stands.

Dave, I find it surprising that you have confused anger and frustration with vitriol. Vitriol is defined by the Free Dictionary as being, "abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-
seated ill will."

No one here has every called anyone who's religious or political views are different from theirs anti-American or Communistic nor have they told them God hated them. We haven't called anyone a terrorist, a baby-killer, a f** if they are gay, a c*** if they are a women, or used the N word if they are African American.

I used words in my previous comment that describe the feelings behind the kind of vitriolic language (examples in the above paragraph) that has been used by other people during the health care debate. I thought we as a people had outgrown our selfish, fear driven, ignorant, hypocritical, self-righteous, jingoistic, bigoted beliefs. To find we have not is the reason why I am so disappointed.

to Diane: Thanks so much for your post. My big disappointment is the absence of a public option, and how wonderful to hear a voice pushing forward to make it happen. Thanks again!

As difficult as it was to pass, this is a start in the right direction. The first stone is always the hardest to push up hill. Now, we all need a break from the emotional roller coaster we've been on for so long! I'm glad it's spring.
Thanks, Ronni, Saul and all the bloggers who read this site, for clarifying the issues and keeping people informed.

I vote for some brief, quiet satisfaction that a start has been made and some sober observation and careful evaluation of whatever results we get. FDR said, "It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."

It is certainly true that the passage of Medicare was a bigger deal than the current bill. But if memory serves me, in 1965 the GOP did not come together in order to destroy Lyndon Johnson personally.

The attacks on Obama, however, have that quality. I should say that I was only a lukewarm Obama supporter to start with, but a year of barbaric assaults on him, his character, his intelligence, his accomplishments, his agenda, even his wife and kids(!) has turned me into a passionate defender.

Hey folks, don't we all know by now that life is imperfect?
Cheers,
Warren

I watched the whole thing on C-Span. I know people don't like the legislative process, but by going through the whole thing, the Democrats have sealed in substantive change. The country club conservatives like David Frum are dismayed; Frum calls this the Republicans' "Waterloo" and blames the media nutjobs and wackos who have invaded and destroyed "their" party. But watching these dirty mean white guys (and a few gals) and their Teabagger friends expose themselves for what they are tells me that the whole party is defunct for the foreseeable future.
The biggest hero of all in this is Nancy Pelosi, who never was discouraged and never gave up, whipping Obama and Rahm Emmanuel along whenever they showed signs of flagging or losing their nerve. They just barely made it happen, and I for one am totally grateful to these people.

I am very grateful to President Obama and Nancy Pelosi for getting the Health Care Reform Bill through and I am also glad to have seen how cheap, mean spirited and downright stupid the House Republicans can be. God knows they had plenty of opportunity to show American voters their lack of intelligence and integrity.
But, they have been elected by their constituencies with funding from big pharma and super sized insurance Insurance and there is very little anybody can do to stop them from creating havoc.

Democratic and Republican congressmen (and women):

"A POX ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES"

I've been watching the debate, if not the details, from my side of the Atlantic with interest, because there are those here who would move us towards an insurance based system.

I have said it before here and on my own blog I think, but without the British NHS, if I was still alive, I would be bankrupt. Almost all my illness over the past 20 years has been because of a birth condition. Even if I had been covered up to say 18 by my parents insurance, once I became an adult, that would have been it. With a major pre existing condition I would almost certainly have been uninsurable.

I've been trying to estimate my medical bills in that situation. It is easier to get US data than for here in the UK, but I suspect we would be heading that way anyway. I don't know how much it costs for a hospital stay, but as far as I can tell three weeks with two operations requiring general anaesthesia, plus major antibiotic treatment, specialist nursing, emergency room treatment, post discharge consultations would have added up to around $40,000+. That is just this year. There have been several other years like it.

This is the position that 35m Americans are in until this Bill passes. They won't all require this level of care, but almost certainly many of them will be poor or in poor health simply because of their lack of insurance.

All I can say is, get ready for a long fight, because the next Republican administration is likely to try and repeal the legislation.

I rejoice and am grateful for what has been accomplished. Whatever problems we may face in the future are far less daunting than the utter disaster we would have faced had millions of people been left at the mercy of the health care system as it stood and had the Obama administration been crushed by the defeat of this bill. It's important not to diminish the success of the moment, just as it's important to allow ourselves a brief moment to recover from the pain of the battle. And then, the war goes on.

I do not believe that the ends justify the means.

The past month has shown that the only way Ms. Pelosi, Rahm Emmanuel, and Harry Reid could get this bill passed was through a combination of bullying (of members of their own party who didn't believe in it) and bribery (using the taxpayers' money). The press at all points along the political spectrum referred to the leaderships' efforts at "armtwisting," and amazingly, no one was embarrassed about it. Great imagery. Do you remember when in elementary school, did anyone ever twist your arm? Really hurt. And that's just accepted political protocol to bring your own party's rank and file to heel when they don't agree with you. I'm afraid it finally came down to "OUR SIDE must WIN."

It shows a misunderstanding of the "other side" to truly believe that the Republicans "do not believe everyone has a right to health care or that the insurance industry does have a right to mega-profits at sick people's expense." The Republicans did have ideas and did make proposals which were roundly ignored, and voted down within committee (controlled by the Democrats). The lobbyists for the Trial Lawyers Association, among others, saw to that. And of course you are aware that the insurance companies are not making mega profits -- only about 3.4%. We shouldn't ignore such facts.

Like most Americans (yes, check the many professional polling organizations -- you know it's true), I believed that the current bill was too flawed, and the real problems should have been addressed by starting over from scratch. I cringed when I heard Ms. Pelosi say, "We'll really know what's in the bill when it's passed and we can read it without all the rancor." Great time to find out. And you know one can't say, "Well, it may be flawed, but once we pass it, we can correct the errors." You know this country. Once an entitlement is in place, you can't get rid of it. The US government is still paying farmers to not raise peanuts, cotton, tobacco, etc., and paying them handsomely. And after all these years, no one has been able to stop it.

The bill has been passed, 2700 little-read pages. But it could have been a better bill. And it could have been done in a much better way.

I'm glad it passed, but the process left much to be desired. Small-minded, mean-spirited and vitriolic describes many of the conservative Republicans who opposed the healthcare bill, in my view. I believe there are more than a few who simply do not want to see President Obama succeed at anything!

Like many of you, I signed petitions, sent e-mails and donated money because I was convinced that our present healthcare system is unsustainable and that something had to be done. Personally, I'm still not certain that I understand fully how the new law will affect my Medicare-Advantage plan, but I was willing to take a chance because we had to start somewhere. I still believe that. It passed the House; however, there's a long way to go. The Senate may yet find a way to derail it, and it may negatively impact progressives in the November elections, although I hope not.

The country is terribly divided and each side is demonstrably hostile to the other. However, as my husband reminded me, this isn't the first time we've been in this position and yet the USA has managed to survive as a democracy. I can recall only two issues during my lifetime that have so deeply divided the country: the Communist witch hunts of the 1950s and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, although healthcare reform may end up coming close. If the larger society can keep nudging the wing nuts on both sides to the fringes where they belong, civil discourse and real reform may yet prevail.

It's a good start! Hang in there my US buddies!

Does health care insurance need reforming? Yes.

Is it a shame that in this country of opportunity so many go uninsured? Yes.

On the other hand:

Is it appalling that seniors, many of whom have paid into Medicare all their working lives, will find it even more difficult to find primary care doctors because of even more cuts to Medicare providers?

Is it morally right for a government to mandate that every person MUST carry health insurance?

Is it legally right for the federal government to mandate that states bear the burden of even more Medicaid patients, many of whom don't (or won't) work to pay for their own insurance?

And, is it ethically right for any political party to use Enron-style accounting to hoodwink the people into believing that this bill will help reduce the deficit?

And, legally non-binding executive orders aside, are we now a country that finances the elective genocide of fetuses?

RE: J.M. Follett, who said:
Is it appalling that seniors, many of whom have paid into Medicare all their working lives, will find it even more difficult to find primary care doctors because of even more cuts to Medicare providers?

Reimbursements for PCPs will rise, under this bill.

Is it morally right for a government to mandate that every person MUST carry health insurance?


I suppose we could institute a system similar to what they have in Haiti and a number of very poor African countries, in which hospitals treat but will not release you until someone pays the bill. See Mountains Beyond Mountains for a good discussion of this practice, which kills many otherwise healthy people, especially mothers and newborns. How do you propose hospitals collect on bills?


Is it legally right for the federal government to mandate that states bear the burden of even more Medicaid patients, many of whom don't (or won't) work to pay for their own insurance?


Most Medicaid patients live in nursing homes and couldn't work even if they desperately wanted to. I would not have wanted my 91-year-old demented mother to have worked to pay her medical bills before she died. What kind of work do you think she could have done from her wheelchair in the nursing home?


And, is it ethically right for any political party to use Enron-style accounting to hoodwink the people into believing that this bill will help reduce the deficit?


We'll see. Just as we don't know that HCR WON'T increase the deficit, we don't know that it WILL, either. Experts in the CBO say it won't have a large impact. Remember this, we're spending something in the order of $1T every year on two wars, and that hasn't raised our taxes a dime.


And, legally non-binding executive orders aside, are we now a country that finances the elective genocide of fetuses?


Genocide of fetuses? Where does it say that in the executive order? The version I read said no federal money will be spend on abortions. I didn't even see anything that allowed for medically necessary abortions to save the lives of mothers, and that, in my opinion, should definitely be in there.

i think it's absolutely wonderful that women made such a difference here...Nancy Pelosi did a masterful job of getting this through the house. and let's not forget the 59,000 NUNS who were in favor of the bill. it seems the sisters had a greater effect than even they counted on. while the pope and the bishops were working against us, the women came through!! one of my dear nun friends who has gone to jail many times for her anti-war and pro-peace activities told me, "they (the pope and the vatican and the bishops) are not the church...WE are the church." It's easy to forget that women DO have power when they choose to use it--and in their own way. i especially love the fact that nancy pelosi is a catholic! she has never gone around honking her horn for the vatican's causes...her work has always been for the american people, especially those who need the most care.

The Catholic Church used to lead the fight for social justice, which these brave nuns represent. Now Glenn Beck has proclaimed that social justice is the same thing as socialism and is terrible. Apparently some people are in favor of social injustice.

Sure, some Republicans think everybody does not have the right to health care. I've heard it said right out loud. They call this another "entitlement," which has become another bad word, like feminist or liberal. Apparently the only people "entitled" to health care are those privileged enough to pay exorbitant insurance premiums. They may not realize that even then, they could be dropped if the insurance company thought their illness was too costly.

Why shouldn't everybody have to carry health insurance? The risk would be spread around then and it ought to cost less per person. (That might not happen unless insurance companies are well regulated.) Having only sick people buy health insurance is like making only bad drivers buy car insurance. We all have to buy auto insurance, even if we've never had an accident, but that keeps the cost manageable for most of us, and it keeps the worry level down, too.

Disappointment...in both parties for the bitter fighting. Relief...at "a beginning" to something that shouldn't be so damned complicated. We are all citizens and it would seem that we would all have a common need to be filled. Disgust...at each one of the blustering politicians. I'm voting against each and every incumbant!

Paula:

Good points. To clear up my reference to the executive order, the current legislation--the one that passed last night--does provide federal funding for abortions (hence Rep Stupak's hold-out), even those that are not necessary for the health of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest--those elective abortions by women for whatever reason. The bill also subsidizes the special abortion insurance plan made available by the bill. The executive order DOES NOT trump the legislation. In fact, law trumps an order every time, so the president can sign all the executive orders he wants, but they do not override the law.

While I think there are many good things in the bill, and it's a good start, much of the funding is inherent in the assumption everyone WILL buy insurance, but the penalties for not doing so (for employers and individuals) are less costly than premiums. For example, I currently pay $4500 for health insurance for myself (Medicare and supplemental), but the fine for not having insurance would be $2250. This would be a consideration if I was 21 and bulletproof.

And, certainly, I was not referring to Medicaid receivers like your mother. Or, for that matter, like my Alzheimer's-addled husband whose assets made him ineligible for Medicaid, but whose assisted living home bills severely affected my financial status as his survivor.

Finally, the half a billion or trillion (can't remember which right now) that the bill intends for cuts to Medicare to finance the extended Medicaid coverage will affect those of us who cannot find primary care physicians who have not opted out of Medicare. My husband's neurologist, who billed for appointments at $165, was reimbursed $38 by Medicare. And, this was several years ago.

All of which, my points and yours, will become more clear and understandable in the future, but I think it's good that we talk about them.

Not much optimism here. With Virginia suing, I'm waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Tell how your teeth are please.

I think Joni has a point. Young people are convinced that they'll never need health insurance beause they're invincible. I thought so, too, until I had to have major back surgery in my early 20s! And just this weekend in my general area of the country, several young people got shot; others were in serious auto crashes and still more were severely injured in sports accidents. I wonder if they had insurance. If they didn't, their families may be facing financial ruin or--more likely--taxpayers will be paying their medical bills.

In my view everyone should have catastrophic health insurance at a minimum. People in their 20s and 30s may be willing to take the risk of "going bare", but from a taxpayer's standpoint, wouldn't it be better if they'd bought insurance? (The new health care law will help them do so if they can't afford it.)

My daughter had breast cancer at age 25. Thank god she had insurance. And thank god she can't be denied insurance now, at age 33, for a pre-existing condition!

My take is this: the Democrats aren't very bright, but they've had enough sense to front-load the most positive aspects of the health-care bill, so that these provisions start helping people right away. The less pleasant, financial aspects involved won't be felt for some time. This will make it much more difficult for Republicans to criticize the bill.
And: given the foolish, all-in decision by Republicans to reject the bill to a man and woman, it should be possible, with a little hard to work, to pound in the last nails on that party's coffin lid between 2010 and 2012. They gambled and lost, and are already doing the coffin-lid pounding themselves by talking now about rescinding the bill, which is an impossibility.

Several callers to C-Span (one 17 yrs & college age male)gave opinions regarding health insurance reform..Way too young in experience to speak about this with any intelligence...In other words...they were against the effort...

So sorry to learn that some of this will not be activated until 2014...Everything should start this year...My insurance companies have had "ample time' to jack up my premiums already...

After a year if frustrating delaying tactics by the Republicans I will take what I can get. I am not sure how it can bring the cost of premiums down until the greedy insurance companies are regulated. But it's a start and when the people find it helps them and doesn't hurt them I think the next round will be to improve the bill and, I hope, include a public option.

The Repblicans were all primed and ready if the bill passed to start raining on our parade. 13 GOP State Attorney Generals have already filed a lawsuit claiming the bill is unconstitutional. And the Republicans are bragging how they will campaign on repealing this bill. Talk about sore losers.

The fight isn't over and we must continue in our effort to educate the public on what is in this bill that is positive and on fighting the smears and lies that are still being heard in
Congress today. If the public finds that this is a good step forward, the Republicans will be hoisted on their own petard.

Hope your recovery from the dental excision continues with rapid healing.

Belated congrats on your real estate sale! Sounds like you'll be Oregon bound in mere weeks.

Watched the passage of the health bill with friends since I don't have cable or satellite. We were in the heart of ultra conservative Orange County CALIF. and imagined we could feel the ground shaking when those numbers reached 216 votes. Interestingly as we checked the old traditional TV networks to see what sort of coverage they were providing of this precedent setting event we found no coverage at all. Even PBS had nothing. It was just another story on the evening news for commercial TV later.

The move to lynch Nancy Pelosi has started here in Calif. I took a phone call a few hours ago from a man identifying himself as being with the Repub. Party to defeat Pelosi. I could hear the buzz of boiler room voices and noises in the background. He clearly expected me to explode negatively about her. When I said, "I think she's the best thing that happened!" he incredulously repeated my words adding a question inflection at the end. I said, "That's right!" He said, "Thank you" and quickly hung up.

I didn't think quickly enough or I would have played with him a little bit just to hear him hang himself with the venom I detected in his voice. Clearly Pelosi is a big time target and likely could benefit from lots of support not only from Californians at the voting booth, but is deserving of some semblance of appreciation from across this nation for shepherding this bill to passage despite the legislation's shortcomings that so many of us lament.

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