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November 08, 2009

So what's in the House health care bill?

The Washington Monthly This is the House version. The Senate will approve their own version and then a committee will smush the two of them together.
It's tough to summarize the entire policy, but the House bill does what reform has set out to do all year -- if you have insurance, you'll have better, more stable coverage with consumer protections. If you don't have insurance, you'll get subsidies to help you purchase coverage from an exchange. The House [bill] is expensive, but it's fully paid for, and would lower the federal budget deficit over the next couple of decades. It includes a public option for eligible consumers, an individual mandate, and an employer mandate. It would cover about 96% of the population, and does not raise taxes on the middle class. . . . For families who buy their insurance on the exchanges that both bills establish, for instance, the House bill includes more generous subsidies -- on average, $1,000 more, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The House bill also offers a lot more assistance to Medicare recipients by reducing the cost of their prescriptions. While the bill that emerged from the Senate Finance Committee renews the Bush administration's mega-bucks gift to the drug companies by continuing to prohibit Medicare from negotiating drug prices with them, the House bill authorizes those negotiations. The Senate bill reduces by half the payments that Medicare recipients must make for prescription drugs that fall into the "doughnut hole" (annual drug expenses are covered up to $2,700, and coverage kicks in again at $6,100, but for all purchases in between, Medicarians are on their own). The House bill would cover all prescription purchases by 2019.

Behind the scenes of the anti-choice Stupak amendment

Abortion Was at Heart of Wrangling - NYTimes.com In a nutshell, we may get health care reform, but we may in the process effectively lose access to abortion. Oh, if you're poor. The rich will--as always--have no problems accessing abortions. Dozens of House democrats were opposed to the health reforms, but agreed to sign on if they could vote on the Stupak-Pitts amendment. The amendment essentially makes it illegal for private insurers to cover abortions.
[Pelosi's] attempts at winning them over had failed, and Ms. Pelosi, the first woman speaker and an ardent defender of abortion rights, had no choice but to do the unthinkable. To save the health care bill she had to give in to abortion opponents in her party and allow them to propose tight restrictions barring any insurance plan that is purchased with government subsidies from covering abortions. The restrictions were necessary to win support for the overall bill from abortion opponents who threatened to scuttle the health care overhaul. The results of that fight, waged heavily over two days, were evident as one liberal Democrat after another denounced the health care plan because of abortion restrictions, even though they were likely to hold their noses in the end and vote for the bill itself. “If enacted, this amendment will be the greatest restriction of a woman’s right to choose to pass in our careers,” said Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado, one of the lawmakers who left Ms. Pelosi’s office mad.

100 Congresspeople from both sides of the aisle call for an exit strategy for Afghanistan

DownWithTyranny!: Senate Prepares To Back Another Obama War Supplemental For Afghanistan Escalation The context is that the Senate is about to sink another few BILLION dollars and thousands of American troops into the "graveyard of empires." A lot of experts think that Afghanistan is ungovernable and unwinnable. We need an exit plan to avoid being stuck there until we can no longer afford to fight (like what happened to the Soviets).
There's only one way this travesty is going to end: we have to end it. We have to say "no" to Obama, the same way we were saying "no" to Bush. Sure Obama isn't a vampire like Bush but what difference does that make to occupied Afs losing their families to "friendly fire" and accidents? What difference does it make to American families losing their sons and daughters for no purpose that either Bush or Obama has been able to successfully articulate? We need to say "no" and we need to mean it. We need to back up the few political leaders brave enough to say "no" as well, men and women like Eric Massa, Barbara Lee, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Carol Shea-Porter, Keith Ellison... Are you ready to get serious about it? The Pentagon is and Obama, apparently, does not have what it takes to stand up to them. Only the American people can do it. And if anyone is going to start it, it's us. You ready? Think about chipping in... now. UPDATE: 100 Co-sponsors Demanding Exit Strategy For Afghanistan James McGovern (D-MA) introduced H.R. 2404 on May 14. If passed it would require the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to Congress outlining the U.S. exit strategy for our military forces in Afghanistan.

House passes health care reform bill

Done Deal | Talking Points Memo
House passes Dem health care bill by a vote of 220 to 215. One Republican voted for the Democratic bill: Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-LA)
The anti-choice amendment that would prevent the public option from covering abortion also passed, with 64 Democrats in the House voting for it, along with all the Republicans.