Posts Tagged - ‘house of representatives’

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Congress’ Health Insurance Coverage Takes Time to Kick In

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Image: SourceWatch

Elected officials tend to enjoy generous health insurance benefits, fully paid for by the government. Members of Congress are no different. However, in one way they aren’t different from you and me: their employer-sponsored health coverage doesn’t kick in immediately.

Newly hired (or elected) representatives and senators must wait 28 days before they can take advantage of the federal health insurance plan. Rep.-elect Andy Harris of Maryland is currently protesting this waiting period, and expressed his problem during freshman orientation earlier this week. It may raise the eyebrows of some that Harris is a Republican who largely ran (and won) on his opposition to healthcare reform and the Obama administration’s increased involvement. He has vowed that he will seek to repeal the law as a member of the House of Representatives.

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Ron Paul Proposes His Own Healthcare Reform Bill

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Image: Gage Skidmore under CC 3.0

Representative Ron Paul, a libertarian Republican and 2008 presidential primary candidate (and father of Tea Party backed Senate candidate Rand Paul), has written and proposed his own version of healthcare reform. If the GOP is truly interested in fixing the system and not simply scoring political points, they should consider it.

In keeping with his beliefs, the Private Option Health Care Act pending in the House of Representatives seeks to largely keep the government out of private business. There is no mandate to pay a fine if you don’t purchase a qualifying health insurance plan. It uses tax deductions and credits to make insurance more affordable, while encouraging people to sign up for Health Savings Accounts and other high-deductible coverage options that cause them to take greater responsibility for their health care.

It also uses the Constitution’s commerce clause–ironically under fire by Obama reform opponents–to allow the interstate selling and purchase of health insurance plans. At the same time, people will now be able to import prescription drugs from reputable countries with high quality control, like Canada and those in Western Europe. Tort reform is also involved, obviously, as a method of cutting costs. At the same time, consumer protection will be retained through a tax credit that pays for insurance against negative medical outcomes.

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2010 Elections: Health Insurance Reform Trips Up Democrats

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

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This year, many Democrats are up for re-election. With much discontent directed at the government (and therefore the majority party), their campaigns are struggling. As a result, a lot of them are attempting to downplay the controversial issue of health insurance plan reform.

Democratic representatives and senators who voted in favor of the legislation are skipping huge, public town hall-style meetings, in order to avoid a repeat of last August’s disasters. When they do major appearances, they largely focus on other issues, especially if they are in more conservative, Republican-leaning districts.

However, they are not necessarily ashamed of their “yes” votes. Far from it; they are making several appearances to tout the benefits of the law, which is meant to increase access to affordable health insurance for their constituents. Admittedly, they are doing that through newspaper opinion pieces, conference calls, and smaller-scale appearances in front of more friendly audiences.

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Democratic Rep Wins Post-Healthcare Reform Special Election

Friday, April 16th, 2010

The very first vote for national office since the passage of affordable health insurance reform occurred in Florida this past week. Many have considered these elections to be a referendum on the law.

Although Republicans are still predicted to take many seats in Congress this fall due to the controversy over healthcare reform, a Democrat won a seat in Florida this week. During a fundraiser in Miami, President Obama cheered the victory of Ted Deutch, who will be replacing retiring Dem Robert Wexler in the House of Representatives.

Granted, a special election during an off-year normally has low turnout. However, political pundits have predicted that would work in favor of the health insurance law’s opponents, who have fired-up supporters and senior citizens–who are more likely to vote–on their side. Still, it’s a sign that Democrats may not suffer in this fall’s mid-term elections as much as previously thought.

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Politician On A Plane: Frank Confronted Over Health Insurance

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Image: World Economic Forum under CC 3.0

The reform of health insurance plan providers is such an important, controversial issue that it can’t even be avoided on the friendly skies! Representative Barney Frank, a Democrat who supported the legislation, was recently confronted by two optometrists who were against what they consider an “Obamanation”.

Reportedly, Frank told them that he preferred to relax and read a book while flying, which angered the two women. The optometrists probably have legitimate concerns on how the healthcare reform law will change family health insurance specifically, through which they get most of their business (e.g. kids needing glasses). Nevertheless, another passenger had to calm down the shouting match between them and Frank’s assistant Jim Ready.

Eventually, the situation subsided, with no help from the plane’s flight attendants. Massachusetts Rep. Frank has also been in the news lately due to accusations that conservative Tea Party protesters used a homophobic slur against the openly gay congressman when he walked out of the Capitol after his “yes” vote, a charge they have denied.

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What Will Republicans Do If They Win?

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Image: Fibonacci Blue under CC 3.0

Republicans are running for election or re-election this fall on the platform of “repeal and replace”. They largely want to dismantle the health insurance plan reform passed by the Obama administration and Democrats. It remains to be seen if that’s an effective political tactic, but what about the practical aspects?

Despite the potential for Republican victory, President Obama will still be in office for at least two more years. Obviously, he’ll veto a measure that seeks to gut one of his most significant domestic policies–the expansion of access to affordable health insurance. So how will a Republican-controlled Congress change things? According to conservative Rep. Michelle Bachmann, they’ll refuse to include funding for it in appropriations bills. She calls it “starving the beast”. Cynics believe that such a strategy makes it more likely that the bill will fail, making it easier for a Republican president to win in 2012 and repeal the law.

The GOP has a good shot at taking back the House of Representatives. However, only one-third of the Senate seats are up for grabs this year. Even if a Republican takes every single one, that will barely leave them with an equal number of seats. They’ll only have 50 votes if independent Joe Lieberman (a former Democrat) switches sides, which he has done in other cases. However, he has expressed his support for the Senate’s legislation. Don’t forget that when the Senate’s tied, the vice president has the deciding vote! Joe Biden will surely vote in favor of retaining the legislation. Senators are responsible for overriding a presidential veto, which can only be done with a two-thirds majority. Reaching that level is mathematically impossible in this election year.

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Recess Not Fun For Pro-Affordable Health Insurance Reform Democrats

Monday, March 29th, 2010

(Image: rstrawser under CC 3.0)

Both houses of Congress are currently taking a recess. After months of frenetic work on affordable health insurance reform, it’s understandable that they would like some rest. Some congresspersons, however, are finding that their constituents are refusing to let them rest.

Here’s the situation: Democrats who voted for the healthcare reform bill are being confronted by angry constituents against it. Although they are receiving support, they are also attracting protesters. Republicans are mostly being hailed and encouraged to attempt repeal in Congress, but some voters are lukewarm. It shows how the issue of health insurance has largely cut across party lines, especially for those Democrats who opposed the bill.

Since many senators and all representatives are up for re-election this fall, this vacation back to their home districts is critical. The developments will be interesting.

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Health Insurance Reform Do-Over A Success

Friday, March 26th, 2010

(Image: Daniel Suarez under CC 3.0)

The Obama administration is probably breathing easy that their second attempt at passing a comprehensive health insurance reform bill was a success. After their triumphant reaction to the House of Representatives voting in favor of the Senate’s bill on Sunday, they hit a snag.

Republicans noticed several errors in the Senate’s bill of “fixes”, which would prevent the legislation from becoming law through reconciliation. According to the nonpartisan parliamentarian, issues dealt with through reconciliation must be directly related to the federal budget. Since he deemed a handful of provisions ineligible, the bill had to go back to the House for another vote.

That move is risky for Democrats looking to avoid yet another controversial vote prior to the midterm elections in November, but it worked. Yesterday, the Senate passed their bill of affordable health insurance fixes by a margin of 56 to 43; they needed only 51 votes. Several hours later, the House approved them 220-207.

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Overreactions To Health Insurance Reform’s Passage

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

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Health insurance reform is a very controversial issue. It is perfectly understandable that many people are unsure or pessimistic about its impact. Freedom of expression is what America is all about.

Unfortunately, some people appear to have been taking it too far. A handful of extremists–not representative of all healthcare reform opponents–have recently thrown bricks into the windows to Democratic party headquarters, as well as the offices of representatives who voted in favor of the bill. Others have yelled racist taunts towards supporters. 10 representatives have even received death threats!

Protests are acceptable, violence is not. Republican Minority Leader John Boehner agrees: he wants the bill to be repealed through legitimate political means. Affordable health insurance is a worthy goal, although Americans may severely disagree on the best way to achieve it.

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Back To The Drawing Board: Health Insurance Reform Returns To House

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

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It’s possible that healthcare reform supporters were rejoicing too soon: it turns out that the health insurance bill will end up returning to the House of Representatives for a Senate vote.

Although Republicans tried to offer many amendments in an attempt to force the bill back to the House, it wasn’t their efforts that have stalled it. Unfortunately for the GOP, the thrust of the bill remains as is. Rather, Democrats themselves made some minor mistakes when writing the legislation. According to the Senate’s parliamentarian, two provisions are not considered to be directly related through the federal budget. Therefore, they cannot be passed through the reconciliation process. The offending provisions are related to an increase in federal Pell grants for college education.

Now, the Senate will have to vote on those issues sometime today, after working on the legislation last night. The House will then have to vote on the bill again, as soon as this evening. While some representatives may consider changing their vote, doing so makes little sense. The changes will not significantly change the content of the bill. Also, those who are angry probably won’t forget their support for the changes in how health insurance plans are bought and sold.

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