Saturday, March 20, 2010

HCR down to the wire

The House vote is scheduled for Sunday right now but that may change and our 2 local Congresscritter's voted for the bill the first time. They have been listed as undecided in all the whip count stories that I have read over the last few days but I would be surprised and very disappointed if they vote against it.

Tonight the Wapo is reporting that Paul Kanjoski will vote for the bill.

Eight others who had said they were undecided -- Reps. Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Bob Etheridge (N.C.) Paul Kanjorski (Pa.) Mary Jo Kilroy (Ohio), David Obey (Wis.), John Spratt (S.C.), Dina Titus (Nev.) and Charlie Wilson (Ohio) -- said they would vote yes as well.

I will try to confirm this later today.

Chris Carney remains "undecided" about the latest national health insurance bill. As of Friday afternoon, he said he still was listening to what "both sides of the issue" were saying and was studying the legislation.

Carney sent out another press release yesterday slamming the big business special interest groups that are running ads in the district.

WASHINGTON – Congressman Carney today called out the hypocrisy of an ad campaign running in the 10th district funded by a group that has repeatedly fought on behalf of big tobacco interests. This is the very same industry that profits from giving people cancer, yet the group Americans for Prosperity has bought huge amounts of additional ad time to try to scare the public about health insurance reform.

Congressman Carney today made the following statement:

“I find it unconscionable that this group is putting huge sums of money behind a TV ad with the sole intent of trying to scare the people of the 10th Congressional District by falsely implying that mammograms were going to be denied to women under 50 years of age.

Their claims are entirely misleading, and are nothing but a callous attempt to scare women, cancer survivors and their families. The Web site rated the ad a “Pants on Fire” lie.

As a cancer survivor, I find it outrageous that this group would try to scare people in such a manipulative way. But even more appalling is that tobacco companies spent decades lying to the American people about the cancer causing effects of smoking.

The fact that this group has repeatedly fought for big tobacco and now wants to kill health insurance reform tells me that they have no interest in fighting cancer but rather solely in protecting profits.

Big health insurers are also spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in our region to pressure my vote. I can’t understand how big health insurers can raise rates in some cases by 39 percent and then rationalize spending millions of dollars on ad campaigns to mislead the public. These big health insurers should be spending their money to give families and small businesses lower rates.
Here’s my challenge: If these companies are serious about helping people who have cancer, take these ads down and spend the money covering people, not covering up the truth.

I won't be bullied by special interests and I certainly won't be bullied by insurance companies and tobacco companies. I am going to do what I believe is the right thing to do for the central and northeastern Pennsylvanians and I am going to listen to the people of Pennsylvania who don't have the money for lobbyists or television ads."

Passing this bill is both good policy and good politics. It's good politics because you can't spend a year on one of the Democratic Party's top policy goals for decades and come up empty. It will make the Democratic Congress look stupid and ineffective dealing a body blow to the President.

It's good policy because it opens the door to further reforms to the health care system.

Ezra Klein lists the immediate benefits:

Legislation that covers 32 million people. A world in which 95 percent of all non-elderly, legal residents have health-care coverage. An end to insurers rescinding coverage for the sick, or discriminating based on preexisting conditions, or spending 30 cents of each premium dollar on things that aren't medical care. Exchanges where insurers who want to jack up premiums will have to publicly explain their reason, where regulators will be able to toss them out based on bad behavior, and where consumers will be able to publicly rate them. ... The final closure of the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit's "doughnut hole."

.. you also get the single most ambitious effort the government has ever made to control costs in the health-care sector. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill cuts deficits by $130 billion in the first 10 years, and up to $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years. The excise tax is now indexed to inflation, rather than inflation plus one percentage point, and the subsidies grow more slowly over time. So one of the strongest cost controls just got stronger, and the automatic spending growth slowed. And then there are all the other cost controls in the bill: The Medicare Commission, which makes entitlement reform much more possible. The programs to begin paying doctors and hospitals for care rather than volume. The competitive insurance market.

This bill is not perfect but it will do a lot of good. My advice to Kanjo and Carney is vote for reform and defend your position.

Kanjorski's office tells me that the Wapo story is incorrect. He is still undecided.


Anonymous said...


Its Carney who is the hypocrite. He has zero intention of openly considering this bill - he's all in supporting this. That's one of the reasons Obama claimed they had the votes yesterday.

If you heard him yesterday on the Kevin and Nancy DNC show - he said he was studying the details of the bill - but then went on the provide a long list of how it will benefit everyone in his district.

You must give him credit, he's very good at playing the public and crafting his brand - but the environment is going to get a lot more toxic when this passes and though he might face a candidate with baggage, this could be the first time he'll have to defend his record - a very different type of race.

the much maligned anonymous poster said...

If Chris Carney votes yes and he is one that pushes it over the top he will be back to teaching in 2011.

A Big Fat Slob said...

Kanjo has reportedly told the Prez that Kanjo is a big fat NO -- wants to protect his cash cow, aka Sallie Mae. I called his office, they didn't deny it.