Matthew Holt

Modest step in the reform journey shows the idiocy of our political system

It does seem to take a health care bill to remind us all how incredibly screwed up the political process is in these here United States. The Medicare Modernization Act was railroaded through by Tom Delay and friends using all their charm and finesse. And last night the House passed its version of the health reform bill. It includes employer mandates, exchanges, subsidies, public option and taxes on those earning more than $500,000 to close the cost gap. And CBO in its wisdom says that it doesn’t increase the deficit.But it didn’t pass by much. 40 Democrats opposed it. These were the Blue Doggers who needed some political cover to be able to say in 2010 that they were against the bill before they were for it. Their expected course of action is that a less liberal bill comes back from final conference with the Senate which they can support. Apparently out there in purple state land uninsurance and egregious health plan behavior are not a problem—at least not compared to the desire of the people to protect the incomes of those earning over $500,000 a year.

But in order to stop even more Democrats opposing it at the last moment Pelosi had to let some previously unheard of Congressman called Stupak become the mouthpiece of the Catholic Bishops who decided that they needed to impose their views about reproductive medical care into the debate. Cynics like me may wonder about the validity of views on that issue from a bunch of old men who’ve allegedly never been married or had sex with a woman, and whose main contribution to child welfare over the past few decades has been to ignore and assist in flagrant abuses of it by their colleagues. But no matter, over recent days they started putting pressure on various Democrats to tighten restriction on Federal funding of abortion.

Someone with greater interest and attention to detail than me will surely figure out which Democrats were against the bill for “deficit reduction” reasons and which were against it because they feared that a mob of frenzied newly pregnant women were awaiting their federal subsidies so that they could expressly sign up via the exchange for health plans that offered abortions. But Pelosi obviously decided that to get the latter groups votes was easier than the formers, and allowed a completely non-sensical abortion of an amendment about abortion that seems to be completely unworkable. So as part of the final bill the Stupak amendment (which is only 2 letters away from describing itself accurately) will prevent insurers offering plans that cover abortions to people buying them through the exchange with subsidies.

This presumably means that insurers would have to offer two plans in each exchange, one with abortion in it and one without, and then track who was eligible for each one, and then make sure that people transferred appropriately between them when they go in and out of subsidy coverage, and then communicate that information clearly to the providers at the point of care, and then check that they paid them or not appropriately. Lucky there are no complications or potential pitfalls there. On the other hand maybe because the government is paying for the exchange no insurer offering any plan in the exchange can pay for any abortion through any of its exchange plans? Or maybe no insurer receiving any Federal Funds for anything can pay for any abortion anywhere? But at least those crusty old Catholic bishops are happy. In any event it’s clear that Stupak is as Stupak does.Nonetheless, for now mission has been accomplished. The “radical” house bill has passed. The Senate will now introduce a bill with a seriously toned down set of mandates and public options. (That had looked in doubt before the House bill). And Harry Reid will show his vast political acumen by somehow rounding up 60 votes in favor of it. Oh, where is Tom Delay when you need him.Then whatever comes out of the Senate will make it to a brutal and bloody conference committee with the House where all the Stupaks, anti-stupaks and everyone else will be trying to make sure their interests are heard. Then that goes back to the House and Senate, and we’ll then go through this all again and see what emerges for Obama to sign.It makes me amazed that anything works in this country.

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PeterCheTimPriscillahealth care Recent comment authors
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Peter
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Peter

The Church hierocracy is not 200 million. You hold the group accountable when the group is acting as organized crime. “The National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People established by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has not had an easy time of determining the extent of the sexual abuse of minors within the American Roman Catholic Church. Not surprisingly, there has been considerable internal opposition. This resistance was so bad that long before its work was finished, its chairman, Frank Keating, was forced to resign after he compared the Church’s actions to the Cosa Nostra,… Read more »

Nate
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Nate

Peter do I need to teach you the difference between a person and a group and how it is wrong to hold an entire group, guessing 200 million+ worldwide for the actions of a thousand?
How would you like your logic applied to minorities becuase of their high crime rate? Should all men be punished because some rape? That is actually liberal ideology amoung many of you so you might actually agree with that, you get the point though….I hope…but doubt as you seldom do.

Peter
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Peter

“While a handful of priest have done something they should be hung for…” If only it was just a handful. Tip of the iceberg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_sex_abuse_cases#Global_extent “The number of alleged abuses increased in the 1960s, peaked in the 1970s, declined in the 1980s and by the 1990s had returned to the levels of the 1950s.[14] Of the 11,000 allegations reported by bishops in the John Jay study, 3300 were not investigated because the allegations were made after the accused priest had died. 6700 allegations were substantiated, leaving 1000 which could not be substantiated. According to the John Jay report, one-third of… Read more »

Che
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Che

“abortion in the US could by now be an artifact, there could have been universal access to birth control and sex education”. -AYFKM?!? Wow, To claim that socialized medicine is the answer to decreasing the abortion rate in the country is downright delusional. Sorry to break it to you, under socialized medicine the only difference would be that anybody against abortions would be forced to pay for the choices women and girls make that leads them to becoming pregnant. To claim that sex education is severely lacking is sadly an ignorant statement. Yes, let’s fund the killing of babies to… Read more »

Tim
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Tim

The Founders expressly designed a system to impede the central government’s perennial metastasis.
It’s a feature, not a bug. And the honking, braying sound of gridlock is music to this conservative’s ears.

Priscilla
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Priscilla

No one should be deluded that the anti choice zealots would be satisfied by blocking women’s access to safe abortion. They are opposed to birth control and certainly to sex education. It is tragic that by the effort of the Stupak amendment to block women’s access to early abortion, women and their daughters of limited finances will have later term abortions, or will end up back in the ER with septic shock and shredded fertility or worse. When the Guttmacher Institute (www.guttmacher.org) recently published a study showing that as contraception is offered worldwide, abortion rates decline. The reaction of the… Read more »

health care
Guest

In this reform, these political societies and the leaders are forcefully diverting the people to get insured for their health and safety… even though they are providing all the safety measures to ensure the health in mind, but this forcing may lead to any sort of mishap..
current health news articles

MG
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MG

The “radical” house bill that gave away goodies to all the principal parties effected to largely cheap the status quo and in some cases actually improve their bottom lines while having no firm cost controls all to expand access in some ways that likely will be difficult to implement (e.g., Medicaid) and maintain. Yeah. People wailed about the MMA Act of 2003 but how is this essentially that different – a bill that is accomplishes something that is needed but leaves a huge price tag for some other sucker to figure out how to pay for it and handed out… Read more »

Alyn Ford
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I still don’t get the logic of the Demo’s need to push a bill that increases the demand and at the same time does not increase the supply of clinicians. I would argue that there will be mature physicians who can afford to leave their careers early who will decide to do so. So, in reality, Pelosi has, in one move, both increased the demand and reduced the supply of professionals. How, on earth, do people not see that we are going to dramatically increase waiting times and start denying “fringe” healthcare needs that the system will no longer be… Read more »

EllenR
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EllenR

Why would you cover …… in the first place? They cost ….. and 99% of the time are preventable.
Perhaps this will lay the groundwork for a bend in the cost curve. People will be held responsible for things that are 99% preventable by their own actions.
Fat chance!

Nate
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Nate

I do, that’s why you give them a job and work their asses off so they are to tired to be running around getting knocked up. And if they still manage to get them selves pregant at least they have the money to pay for their own abortion. Let them work 50 hours to pay off 5 minutes of sex and see if they aren’t more careful next time. Start locking up dead beat dads in work camps till they are current on child support and they won’t be so quick to knock up so many girls. Liberals like to… Read more »

Margalit Gur-Arie
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Margalit Gur-Arie

Nate, would you prefer to spend your tax dollars on all those multiple children born to teenage single moms? I thought you had an objection to that as well….

Nate
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Nate

What a shock Matt going over the top politically ignorant. I guess facts don’t matter when you got propoganda to spread. “whose main contribution to child welfare over the past few decades has been to ignore and assist in flagrant abuses of it by their colleagues.” No such thing as Catholic Charities is their Matt? Or the millions of kids getting quality Catholitic educations becuase your liberal public education is a complete failure? Or the homeless shelters that provide so many a warm dry place to stay and some hot meals. What is it Matt do they not exist or… Read more »

Dennis
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Dennis

“It makes me amazed that anything works in this country.” In the Westminister parliamentary system, the legislative majority has to take full responsibility for the actions of the government, because it IS the government.