Stupak may yet bring down health insurance reform (updated)
by desmoinesdem, Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 11:35:08 PM EDT
Several undecided House Democrats came out in support of the health insurance bill today, but it's still not clear whether leaders have the 216 votes they need. Between six and twelve Democrats are in Bart Stupak's bloc, which will vote for the bill only if it severely restricts private insurance coverage for abortions. Chris Bowers thinks some "bullshit" compromise may peel away the few votes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs from the Stupak bloc, but a more disturbing possibility is taking shape.
Stupak is demanding that his amendment be voted on later as an "enrollment corrections" bill. The parliamentary procedure here is complicated, so I ask you to read David Waldman or David Dayen for an explanation.
Pro-Choice Caucus co-leader Diana DeGette claims that 40 to 555 House Democrats may not vote for the final deal if it includes a promise to enact the Stupak language separately. I assume most of those would cave, but if even five or ten stood their ground, they would cancel out the Stupak bloc members.
Given how much Democrats rely on women voters to win elections, it's amazing that they would sell out abortion rights to appease a few anti-choicers. Although the Catholic Bishops have opposed the health insurance reform bill, a major Catholic newspaper as well as groups representing Catholic hospitals and nuns are supporting it. Then again, after abandoning other core Democratic positions on health care reform (like letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices), what's another kick in the teeth for the base?
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offers what sounds to me like false hope of a separate vote on a public health insurance option. Such a vote would have to be attached to a budget reconciliation bill in order to have any hope of passing the Senate.
As far as I know, the dispute over Medicare reimbursement rates has not been resolved yet. Peter DeFazio has threatened to vote no if geographical disparities in Medicare payments are not corrected, and today Representative Bruce Braley's spokeswoman told me that he is undecided on the bill, in part because of that issue. Other House Democrats have also expressed concern, according to the Huffington Post. I doubt Braley will end up voting against health insurance reform, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Pelosi negotiate language on Medicare reimbursement rates that's closer to the House bill.
UPDATE: Stupak was supposed to hold a press conference Saturday morning at 11, but that was cancelled. I assume that means he and Pelosi don't have a deal yet, but who knows?