Health Insurance Reform Outlook August 2009 Three Committees of jurisdiction in the House (aka tri-committees) are Ways and Means, Education and Labor and Energy and Commerce.
Health Insurance Reform OutlookAugust 2009
Three Committees of jurisdiction in the House (aka tri-committees) are Ways and Means, Education and Labor and Energy and Commerce.
Democratic chairmen of each committee and their related subcommittee chairs worked over this spring to draft what was originally called the tri-committee bill and is now known as H.R. 3200.
They drafted the bill for the most part independently without input from stakeholder groups, the rest of the Democratic Caucus or even other Democrats on their committees.
A discussion draft of the bill was released in June, then hearings were held in each Committee on a revised version of the legislation.
The goal of the Democratic House leadership and the Obama Administration was to complete the Committee mark-ups of the legislation by mid-July and pass a measure on the House floor just before departing for the August Congressional recess on July 31.
House Ways and Means Committee passed its version of H.R. 3200 on 1:16 am July 17 following a one-day mark-up.
Three Democrats joined with all 15 GOP Committee members to oppose it.
All 25 GOP amendments were defeated
The $1 trillion bill would be financed primarily by Medicare cuts and a 544 billion surtax on the adjusted gross income of upper-income Americans
Education and Labor passed their version of HR 3200 on July 17th too after an all-night mark-up the day before.
All GOP amendments were rejected and three Democrats also joined with the GOP in opposition to the bill.
Approved amendments included an expansion of the sizes of businesses allowed to buy coverage in the exchange and an indefinite expansion of COBRA until the exchange is up and running.
Intention was to markup HR 3200 over three days (July 20-22) so as to have final bill ready to vote on the House floor on July 30.
This schedule would have met President Obama’s goal of a bill passed out of the House by the start of the August recess.
But after only one day, the mark-up was postponed.
Seven conservative blue dog Democrats on the committee said they wouldn’t support the bill in its current form.
"If the bill fails it will be because of disagreement among the Democrats."
-House Minority Whip,
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)
All night negotiations led to amendments that enough Blue Dogs would support for passage.
Amended version included specific language guaranteeing licensed agent the ability to sell both private coverage and the public plan.
Five Blue Dogs still opposed the measure.
The Committee still has 60 amendments to vote on after the recess is over.
Progressives are still claiming that they will not support the Blue Dog language on the government-run public plan.
Three versions of the bill still have to be “married” together.
Progressive-controlled Rules Committee gets to set the parameters for floor debate in September.
The two committees of jurisdiction in the Senate are the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Finance Committee.
Senator Kennedy and the HELP Committee began holding meetings with stakeholders and committee members about draft legislation right after the 2008 election. HELP discussions were initially bipartisan, but eventually those talks tapered off.
Senator Baucus and the Finance Committee released a health reform white paper in December 2008 and began bipartisan discussions and regular stakeholder meetings shortly thereafter.
Senate Finance Committee released a series of three “policy option” papers in May on cost containment and quality, coverage and financing issues, that were widely considered to be a first draft of legislation.
Senate HELP Committee released a comprehensive bill, the American Health Care Choices Act in early June.
Finance Committee was expected to release its version of a comprehensive reform bill shortly thereafter, but even though bipartisan negotiations on the measure continue daily an official draft has yet to be released.
“They are the villains in this. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening. And the public has to know that.”
Speaker Pelosi, July 30, 2009
“The truth is we have a system today that works well for the insurance industry, but it doesn't always work well for you.”
President Obama, July 29, 2009
Senate Democrats have begun to publicly wonder how long bipartisan negotiations should continue.
Use of the Budget Reconciliation process to pass health reform is their big stick.
But there are a lot of reasons why privately Senate leaders will admit that they would be much better off with a bipartisan bill.
Quinnipiac University Poll – July 27-August 3:
59% of people disagree that Congress should pass reform if only Democrats support it vs. 36% that agree
72% of people think reform will add to deficit despite the President’s pledge vs. 21% who think he will keep his pledge
61% of Americans would rather purchase health care from the private sector vs. 25% from a government program
This up from 53% in July and includes 63% of independents
66% of people think they will pay higher taxes as a result of reform plan
CNN/Opinion Research – July 31-August 3:
3 in 10 of all Americans think the president's health care proposals will help their families
44 percent feel they won't benefit but that other families will be helped by the president's plans, and one in five say no one will be helped.
83% of people are satisfied with their own health care
74% are satisfied with their personal health insurance coverage
“I think the best way we’re going to get single payer, the only way, is to have a public option and demonstrate the strength of its power.” Rep. Barney Frank, D-MA
“The public option is not a compromise, but a strategic step toward the single-payer system and the elimination of the private insurance industry.” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL
“About 88.1 million workers would shift from private employer insurance to the public plan.”
Lewin Group Independent Analysis of H.R. 3200, July 28, 2009
Action/Fact of the Day
Town Halls/In-District Meetings
HUPAC Distributions In-District
Phone calls, letters, emails and Faxes
Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor
Radio Advertisements and PSAs
National Association of Health Underwriters