Senate approves health care bill 60-39

Senators approved the health care reform bill 60-39 as Vice President Joe Biden presided over the Senate's first Christmas Eve session in at least four and a half decades. It was the expected party-line vote, with Republican Jim Bunning absent.

More updates and reaction to this vote to follow.

Yesterday Democrat Tom Harkin of Iowa asked for unanimous consent to move up the final health care vote to make it easier for some members to spend Christmas with their families, but Republican David Vitter of Louisiana said no.

Speaking of health care maneuvering, Joe Lieberman's brand has taken a hit this month. Why is no mystery. As Nate Silver observed here and here, being at the center of the health care reform debate tends to bring senators' approval ratings down, and Lieberman was blocking provisions with broad nationwide support.

After this morning's health reform vote, the Senate moved on to raise the debt ceiling. Retiring Republican George Voinovich of Ohio voted yes, making up for the no vote by Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana.

Update [2009-12-24 8:54:45 by desmoinesdem]: Reaction from Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO (click link for full text):

At this historic moment, it is so important to the future of working Americans—and to our country—to get health care reform right. Despite doing some good things, the Senate bill remains inadequate. Substantial changes must be made in the final bill. [...]

It makes no sense to tax the benefits of hard-working Americans to pay for health reform. The House bill curbs insurance companies and taxes the wealthy who benefited so richly from the Bush tax cuts. The Senate bill instead includes exorbitant new taxes on middle class health benefits that would affect one in five workers with employer-provided health coverage—or about 31 million people—in 2016. That’s the wrong way to pay for health care reform and it’s political suicide.

The House bill is the right model for reform. It covers more people, takes effect more quickly and is financed more fairly. The AFL-CIO is ready to fight on behalf of all working families to produce a final bill that can be called genuine reform. Working people cannot accept anything less.

Update [2009-12-24 9:10:19 by desmoinesdem]: On Tuesday Chris Bowers previewed some of the key fights coming up as House and Senate members reconcile their bills in conference.

Update [2009-12-24 9:37:58 by desmoinesdem]:This chart at the Washington Post site shows how each senator voted, how much he or she has received in campaign contributions from the health industry, and what percent of that state's residents lack health insurance.

Tags: Congress, health care reform, Senate (all tags)



Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

Fun Chart. Sort on contributions and look at McCain.

by QTG 2009-12-24 04:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

For all the flaws this bill has, it is pretty amazing something this good got 60 votes in the Senate. Some of its provisions are actually quite a bit better than the House bill.

by Lolis 2009-12-24 05:07AM | 0 recs
Huzzas all around

Now to improve this bill as best as possible, and then begin discussion for future reforms.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-12-24 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Huzzas all around

Agreed... I just don't want to see it killed because I frankly think DesmoinesDem, Jerome, Matt Sirota and many others are just plain mistaken that Congress will all of a sudden decide to try a new bill through reconciliation in an election year.   At a minimum this won't see light of day until next year, IMHO, and if by some chance we lose control of one or both chambers, then Health Care Reform is done until we can take control again.  

But I do think that this needs to be improved as much as possible in committee and then as you said, we go on to future fights.     Although it won't happen, I'd still love to see them sly enough to pass this and then immediately do a PO bill through reconciliation... that way the reforms that can't be done through reconciliation are passed and the PO becomes law.  It won't happen, but I can dream.

I'm curious about the "suggested" compromise that Pelosi signaled she could support... national health plans run by private sector companies as a PO alternative.   Not great, but better than NOTHING... although you'd have to make sure it wasn't awarded to any of the big big names.   I'd like to learn more about the proposal.

by FUJA 2009-12-24 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Huzzas all around

Just to Clarify, the National plans are multiple plans, run by private sector but monitored and regulated by the OPM.

Of course the BEST (besides Single Payer) and EASIEST solution   that could be implemented before the elections is to do hard regulation on Insurance prices.  Government regulates all the pricing, which sure as heck would keep the pricing down.    I still think this is the best solution outside of Single payer.   Problem is, it will never pass.

by FUJA 2009-12-24 07:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

Well, Jerome was right. Health reform is now done for the year.

by Cole Moore Odell 2009-12-24 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

Gotta chalk that one up in the Jerome column fer sure.

by QTG 2009-12-24 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

Quit feeding the trolls

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-24 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

Ah, I said it would would not be finished before the end of the year.... its going over into JanFeb

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-24 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

Wait, you mean in that post entitled "Healthcare looks done this year" that began: "Too many intractable differences for it to move forward right now. The signs of of it ending are all around"? That one?

Are you really claiming you meant to say that conference and final passage would push into 2010? I think that's been clear to everyone on every side of the issue for some time. You're under no obligation to admit you read the tea leaves wrong--obviously those many differences were tractable enough for it to clear the Senate--but it's kind of weird.

by Cole Moore Odell 2009-12-24 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

Congratulations to Senator Reid who has the toughest and most thankless job in the country.

I think this is a horrible bill but my own views aside, Senator Reid deserves at least a measure of credit.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-24 06:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

I like this comment.  It's like how you might congratulate someone on her new baby even though it's a really really ugly baby.

by Steve M 2009-12-24 09:15AM | 0 recs
Good to see you here.

I have not been to MyDD for a while.  Glad you are front paging.

by TomP 2009-12-24 06:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

It is through the Senate, there is no way to view this as a bad thing. Now it goes to conference and we see how much it can be improved.

I for one am happy.

by JDF 2009-12-24 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

The problem is the for-profit industry leaching money from the sick.

This bill encourages the permanent entrenchment of the corrupt private health insurance corporation as the nexus of the American health care system.

It is a step backwards in terms of reform.

by jeopardy 2009-12-24 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

Provide evidence of this beyond simple belief and I will listen to your argument. Because all I am hearing is "unless it is the reform I want I refuse to believe it is reform."

by JDF 2009-12-24 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

ok, this bill sets up massive subsidies to for-profit insurers without doing anything to set up government options instead.

how's that?

by jeopardy 2009-12-24 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

and it seems so self-evident, that I would like the court of public opinion to take judicial notice that:

it is horrible to get a lawyer and fight an insurance company for months and years, all while very, very sick with huge medical bills(that's who gets their policy rescinded) and not being covered by your insurance

by jeopardy 2009-12-24 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

You have yet to explain how it would work differently in your dream regulatory regime.  It is no picnic to go without necessary health care coverage while some state or federal regulator takes a year to figure out if your policy was correctly rescinded.

by Steve M 2009-12-24 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

The best-case would be a PO where people go go if the Insurance Companies keep victimizing people.

The insurance companies would then have a very strong incentive to not have stories about recissions get out.

Both other, half-measures that would not solve the problem but that would help would be to give the money and power to a Federal Agency to enforce it, proscribe into law gigantic penalties for the insurance companies so that the financial incentive calculus changes, heck, even giing the states money for enforcement so they can hire more attorneys and better manage the caseload, etc.

These are things that would help somewhat, and could be put into the current bill if only people stop shouting down anybody who dares to suggest that the bill isn't fine the way it is in terms of enforcement.

by jeopardy 2009-12-24 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

So are you saying we ought to publicize rescission rates somehow, so people will be like "my insurance company rescinds 1.4% of its policies, I better go sign up for the public option"?  It's not clear to me that it would work out in practice.

Again, my problem is not with your statement that we could spend more money on enforcement because of course we could.  My problem is with you trashing the bill as utterly worthless because it doesn't set up a new federal agency or anything.  Making something illegal as a matter of federal law is a big first step and I look forward to seeing people like Russ Feingold hold committee hearings on shady insurance company practices that were previously just a matter for state government to worry about.

by Steve M 2009-12-24 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

and those are just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more. They could probably get more ideas from other countries that have managed to do it well.

by jeopardy 2009-12-24 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

I guess my larger point is this- there is a LOT of good in the bill. But you are willing to ignore it because it is not the good you were looking for. You wanted a public option. I wanted a public option. Everyone here wanted a public option. The difference is between those of us who are unwilling to let the lack of a perfect bill keep us from getting what good we can and those of you who are saying that you want your perfect utopian bill or nothing at all.

The 85% clause in this bill is amazing...and it will be easily enforceable.

The other legal changes in the bill in regards to pre-existing conditions and rescinsion are good first steps. The money Bernie Sanders got that will make healthcare significantly more accessible to those who need it most is a huge get for us.

My point being that while there is plenty more we wish we had gotten, and I believe we will continue to fight for in the future, this bill is a good first step. It will save money and save lives. And it will serve to put the insurance industry on notice.

Further, considering the positioning of the House Dems on this bill, I strongly believe that the final bill will be an improvement over what we are currently seeing. I also strongly believe that it won't be good enough for you.

by JDF 2009-12-24 11:09AM | 0 recs
it's not putting industry on notice

Come on, JDF, they beat back real reform with the largest Democratic majorities in decades and a strong mandate for change.

Democrats will have fewer seats in Congress after 2010. Insurance companies should feel 100 percent confident that they can block any real attempts to regulate their behavior in the future.

AETNA issued a press release welcoming passage of the Senate bill today. That tells you it does nothing to hurt their bottom line.

by desmoinesdem 2009-12-24 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Senate approves health care bill 60-39

I look forward to losses in 2010 and 2012. Once again, we will wonder what went wrong? A waste pf tax dollars and no consumer protection does not equal "healthcare reform". I guess the only way the party learns to get better is by losing, so be it.

by bsavage 2009-12-25 12:12PM | 0 recs


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