Saturday, December 19, 2009

Breakthrough in the Senate Healthcare reform bill?

It appears that a 60th member of the US Senate has agreed to support the Senate's version of the bill and that thus debate will finally end on Monday and the bill will pass after a vote.

This is because it seems that an agreement was reached late on Friday on language that resolves Senator Ben Nelson's concerns that federal funds will not be used to fund abortions under the Senate bill.

The House of Reps has already passed its own bill, on November 7, that that version included stricter anti-abortion language favored by Senator Nelson, yet, last week the Senate (somehow?) rejected an amendment that would have incorporating the same language as in the House's version in the Senate bill!!!!!

Anyway, the Senate's bill extends coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans by providing subsidies to help them pay for the health coverage and by stopping refusals to insure people with pre-existing medical conditions. The "collateral damage" of the bill is a) the removal of plans for a government-run insurance option and b) the removal of an expansion of the Medicare government health program for the elderly to 55-64 year olds (even of a pay-in option).

Notably, President Obama's "Weekly Address: The Patient's Bill of Rights and Health Reform" video had been posted on the White House's website (White House Blog)on December 19, at 12:00 AM EST!

In his address, President Obama looks back to the bipartisan Patient's Bill of Rights, a bill that was defeated in Congress, according to the Pres., at the hands of special interests and their supporters, and notes that health insurance reform covers the same ground and much more in terms of giving the consumers the upper hand over their insurance companies. He then calls on the Senate to allow an up-or-down vote, and for those opposing reform to stop using parliamentary maneuvers to drag it out.

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