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Obama: "This is What Change Looks Like"

President Obama after the House passed the health care reform bill:

This is not radical reform, but it is major reform. … This is what change looks like

Full transcript of remarks below: [More...]

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Health Care Bill: What's In It For Us?

CBS has a wrap-up of what's in the Health Care Bill and when the various provisions take effect. The Daily Beast has a good recap of both what's in it and what's not in it.

Here's the House Summary of the reconciliation bill. Here's a summary of the Manager's Amendment. And here's a summary of the actual bill. [More...]

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Dems Say Health Care Vote is Secure

The Democrats say they have the 216 votes needed to pass health care. They are already pounding their chests. Here's House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson on ABC's "This Week":

"President Roosevelt passed Social Security. Lyndon Johnson passed Medicare. Today, Barack Obama will pass health-care reform.”

The vote will take place between 6 p.m. and midnight.

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Accolades Start Streaming In for Obama and Pelosi

The health care vote may not be until tomorrow, but the accolades for President Obama, who says health care will be his legacy, Nancy Pelosi and even Harry Reid are already beginning. From The New York Times:

That Mr. Obama has come this far — within a whisper of passing historic social legislation — is remarkable in itself. But the story of how he did it is not his alone. It is the story of how a struggling president partnered with a pair of experienced legislators — Ms. Pelosi and, to a lesser extent, Mr. Reid — to reach for a goal that Mr. Obama has often said had eluded his predecessors going back to Theodore Roosevelt.

Their journey over the last two months, interviews with White House aides, lawmakers, outside advisers, lobbyists and political strategists show, involved tensions, resolve, political spadework — and a little bit of luck.

The accolades are less for the content of the bill and more for the arduous task of herding the cats. (I wonder if that's how the phrase "Congress critters" came about.)Do most Americans even know what's in the bill? [More...]

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Obama Confident Enough to Adopt Mocking Tone

Greg Sargent at the Plum Line says Obama wouldn't adopt this mocking tone of Republicans unless it was in the bag. He also thinks the Dems are releasing some vulnerable members, like Jim Matheson and Zack Space of Ohio, saying it's okay for them to vote "no" because they don't need them. They've got the votes.

Here's a rough schedule of tomorrow's vote timeline: [More..]

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House Rules Committee Setting Rules for Health Care Vote

The House Rules Committee is in session setting up the rules for tomorrow's health care vote.

Stupak postponed his press conference on the abortion issue. What is he, the new Drama Queen? Pelosi says there will be no separate vote on his proposal.

Seems to me the bill is going to pass. It may be a squeaker, but it will pass.

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Will Pre-Existing Conditions Only Cover Kids?

Politico says John Aravosis of AmericaBlog makes a good catch on David Plouffe's op-ed in the Washington Post: Obama may be preparing to drop the ban on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions for all but children in the health care bill. Plouffe wrote:

Parents won't have to worry their children will be denied coverage just because they have a preexisting condition.

Aravosis says,

Their children? The original promise - even the bad Senate bill - protects everyone, of any age, from being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Now it's just children?

Aravosis says it's unlikely Plouffe was just using kids as an example. But, could Plouffe have been talking about when the ban kicks in? His full paragraph reads:

If we do pass it, dozens of protections and benefits take effect this year. Parents won't have to worry their children will be denied coverage just because they have a preexisting condition. [More...]

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Health Care Bill Does Not Depend on Coakely Race

Ezra Klein:

I'm fairly optimistic that health-care reform will pass, even if Martha Coakley loses to Scott Brown in Massachusetts. It certainly can pass, as the House could simply approve the Senate bill unchanged and then make modifications through the reconciliation process.

This news article in the Wall St. Journal makes the same points. Jonathan Chait at TNR has three options for the health care bill if Coakley loses.

Jake Tapper and Jonathan Karl at ABC agree. Either the House passes the Senate version so this election won't matter, or they use reconciliation.

The sky is not falling, despite the suggestion to the contrary by the influential Dems runnng to MA this weekend to stump for Coakely. [More...]

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Health Care Bill Clears Final Hurdle For Xmas Eve Vote

The final hurdle to a full Senate vote on the health care bill was overcome today. WaPo has more here. The Senate will vote Xmas eve morning at 7 am.

Then it's off to Hawaii for President Obama and family, who postponed the trip a day so he would be in D.C. when the final vote is taken.

As to the health care bill, after it passes the Senate, it's on to the House-Senate conference in January where the bills will be reconciled.

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Dems Get 60 Votes on Health Care Bill During 1:00 am Vote

Update: 1:17 am ET: The Dems get their 60 votes to limit debate. Yeas: 60, Neas: 40. The Yeas were 58 Dems and 2 Independents. The motion is agreed to.

Update: 1:10 am ET: The vote to limit debate on the Reid Manager's amendment is underway. They just wheeled Sen. Byrd in. The schedule if it passes:

  • Tues: 7am: procedural vote
  • Weds: 1pm procedural vote
  • Thursday 7 pm - Final passage

The Senate will vote on the health care bill in an hour, at 1:00 a.m. ET. David Shuster will be anchoring live on MSNBC.

Debate has begun, you can watch it on C-span here. [More...]

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Senate Reaches Agreement on Health Care

Lots of news sources are reporting a "broad agreement" has been reached in the Senate on health care.

The AP is further reporting (in an article with a time stamp two hours from now) that the agreement includes tossing the public option. Are they right?

Democratic senators say they have a tentative deal to drop a government-run insurance option from health care legislation. No further details were immediately available.

But liberals and moderates have been discussing an alternative, including a private insurance arrangement to be supervised by the federal agency that oversees the system through which lawmakers purchase coverage. Additionally, talks centered on opening up Medicare to uninsured Americans beginning at age 55, a significant expansion of the large government health care program that currently serves the over-65 population.

Jon at Firedoglake is not impressed with the likely details of the Medicare proposal. It won't cover that many people and is not really a buy-in. By the time they are done, it may not even really be Medicare.

Update: WaPo: The public option is being shelved in favor of other alternatives.

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About the Long Term Care Benefits in the Health Care Bill

(Warning: This post is going to be controversial and expresses my views only.)

Both the House and Senate bills would create a voluntary federal program to provide long-term care insurance that pays small cash benefits to people with severe cognitive or physical disabilities. Like the elderly.

I don't think most people understand what long term care insurance covers. It covers nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and for the cognitively or physically disabled, some home health care costs in lieu of going to a facility. This isn't medical coverage but coverage that assists those who can't feed, clothe, toilet or bathe themselves. You aren't eligible until you can't do at least two of the above. The payments cover a fraction of the actual cost of the services. In other words, you have to be basically physically or mentally dysfunctional to qualify for what is a paltry amount of benefits. [More...]

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Dems Pass Health Care Bill, 220 to 215

Update: 9:08 pm MT: The Health Care bill passes. With 6 minutes remaining to vote, there are 218 votes in favor. Final vote: 220 yes, 215 no. 39 Dems voted no, 1 Republican voted yes. House adjourns at 9:33 pm.

Now that it's a done deal, people will want to know what's in it, and what it means for them. A good starting place, with lots of links, factsheets and more:

Question: Did the Stupak Amendment save the health care bill? 64 Dems voted for the Stupak amendment. 39 Dems voted against the health care bill. Does that mean the Stupak amendment resulted in 25 yeas for the HCR bill? The HCR bill passed with only 2 votes to spare. Next question: Was the trade-off "wire coat hanger amendment" worth it?

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While some fool is going on about malicious trial lawyers on the House Floor, we are waiting for the vote on the full health care reform bill, which should take place in the next hour. It's the Affordable Health Care for America Now Act. The Dems need 218 votes. The Dems think they have them. [More...]

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