Tag Archive: health care reform

Health Care Reform clears hurdle

By a 60-39 vote, the Senate agreed to proceed with the debate on the health care reform bill. Senator Bob Menendez spoke earlier today:

I like the part about “socialism” and all the Republican “no’s” in the past. Menendez also issued a statement following the vote:

“Each step we take toward health insurance reform brings families closer to the type of health insurance security and relief from ballooning costs that will prolong lives, protect paychecks and cut the budget deficit. Tonight was a major one of those steps, though there are a number that still lie ahead. With dozens of my colleagues not even willing to work on this bill constructively through our democratic process, this vote laid bare who is for change and who is for more of the same at any cost. The American people can look at this vote and the forthcoming debate and tell clearly who stands on the side of American families counting on their insurance to be there when they need it the most and who wants to protect the insurance companies no matter what. Some of my colleagues will seek to address their concerns about this bill with constructive ideas, but others who have no new ideas and merely want to defend the status quo will instead try to wreak havoc with the tired, old fabrication and fear tactics used for generations to protect special interests. In the end, the American people will understand who takes their struggles with insurance companies seriously and who is only serious about protecting insurance company profits. I believe the voices of families who just want for a fighting chance against insurance company bureaucrats will prevail and we will finally have health insurance reform.”

PPP looks at the 2010 turnout and health care reform

There’s an interesting post by Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling (PPP) on how health care reform will affect turnout in 2010. PPP did a good job with the New Jersey governor’s race and I think we have to take his analysis seriously, though as he notes, this is all based on polls of the 2009 likely voters, so it’s missing anyone who sat home for Corzine but would turn out next year. (Remember that PPP had Christie leading 47-41 in this poll; the actual result was 49-45.) They asked in both Virginia and New Jersey whether the voter would vote Republican or Democratic for Congress in 2010, which found they’d go Republican over Democratic 46-41 here, and then…

Second we asked how they would vote for Congress next year if no health care bill passed. In Virginia that increased the GOP lead to 49-35 and in New Jersey it expanded it to 45-38. In other words the failure to pass health care did not put any dent into the percentage of people saying they’ll vote Republican next year. They’re voting for the GOP whether health care passes or not. But it did create a small decline in Democratic support from voters who seem to be saying that if a Democratic Congress can’t create meaningful health care reform what’s the point in going out to vote Democratic anyway.

Third we asked how people would vote if Congress passed a health care bill with a public option. In Virginia the GOP led 51-39 under that scenario and in New Jersey it was a 47-40 advantage. So in Virginia Democrats poll slightly better with a comprehensive health care bill than without one and in New Jersey there’s no difference.

All disputes over the quality of the health care reform bill aside, this is an illustration of why many of us also think a Democratic (Adler) vote against health care is political malpractice. While it makes little difference to most people, it seems there’s evidence that failure will keep a bit of the base home, when what Democrats need is to increase turnout. The best you can hope, I suppose, is that the effect is small enough that perhaps it won’t really pan out that way if health care reforms fails.

Respecting mothers

Here’s a revealing exchange from the House rules Committee last Friday:

In promoting the House health bill, New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone made reference to discrimination by insurance companies, citing their reluctance to insure people with preexisting conditions and differences in costs based on gender. “But that’s not against the law,” Texas Republican Pete Sessions said.

    Pallone replied, “No, but we would make it against the law. Why do you have a problem with that?” he asked. “Why should a woman pay more than a man?”

    “Well, we’re all different,” Sessions explained. “Why should a smoker pay more,” he said before getting interrupted by a burst of chatter throughout the room.

We’re seen this view crop up in the Senate too, where Claire McCaskill has to remind Jon Kyl of the importance of mothers. I’m genuinely curious how the so-called “conservatives” justify this kind of thinking when they are supposed to be pro-family, pro-personal responsibility, and so forth and so one. Anyone have a good link? I honestly think it’s all BS, the Republicans seem to me to be dominated by a toxic mix of greed and belief in their own superiority. Good for Pallone, for standing up to them. Maybe next time Pallone can ask Sessions to exclude football injuries, that might get a Texan’s attention. Still, I can’t help but wonder when we’ll have a New Jersey woman in Congress again. These are situations where we can see diversity really matters.

What happened to the old John Adler?

While every one of the state’s five Republicans marched in lockstep with John Boehner and Eric Cantor by opposing health care reform, seven of eight New Jersey Democrats voted for the historic health care reform bill. Among Democrats, only 3rd District Congressman John Adler voted no.

Of the 39 Democrats who voted against H.R.3962, only four come from more Democratic districts than NJ-03. Some 30 Democrats who represent redder districts than Adler’s voted yes. Adler’s vote was nothing but cowardly.

Adler’s vote may not have been a surprise, given the series of negative statements he has about the bill since the summer, but it certainly is a disappointment. Adler has moved hard to the right ever since being elected to represent NJ-03 last November. Where is the John Adler New Jersey progressives fought to elect?

What happened to the John Adler who pushed the death penalty repeal through the State Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007? What happened to the John Adler who expressed support for marriage equality in the Senate civil union hearings in 2006? The courageous progressive who served in the state Senate for more than a decade has exited the political stage to make way for a cowardly freshman Representative who caves in to the teabaggers on the big votes.

What happened to the John Adler who knows from personal experience what a lack of health insurance can do to a family? What happened to the “outspoken advocate for providing health insurance to all families”? The Congressman seems to have forgotten about the uninsured, for all he talks about these days is cutting costs.

It seems Adler has forgotten what got him elected to Congress in the first place. He won the support of rank-and-file Democrats and thus an easy path to the nomination by maintaining a progressive voting record in the State Senate. He rode Barack Obama’s coattails into office in the general election (remember that Obama outperformed him in the district in 2008). But for his first Congressional re-election campaign, Congressman Adler is casting his lot with the big-money donors looking to influence his votes on the Financial Services Committee, and with teabaggers like William Green.

Tell John Adler to vote yes on Health Care Reform

This evening, the US House of Representatives may finally vote on a health care reform bill. None of the 177 House Republicans is expected to vote for the bill, so Democrats must find the 218 votes required to pass the bill from within their own caucus. At the moment, it is not at all clear whether or not the bill is going to pass, as several dozen Democrats are on record opposing the bill and a number of others are on the fence.

One of the Democrats refusing to support the bill is New Jersey Congressman John Adler. Adler concedes that the house bill is “a step in the right direction,” but plans to vote against it because it doesn’t control costs enough.

Late last month, Adler had a chance to support a bill with a public option that would reimburse health care providers at Medicare rates plus 5 percent. This plan would have saved a substantial amount of money over the current version, which will force the government to negotiate rates with providers just as private plans do. Had Adler and other Democratic opponents of the current bill had supported that plan, it may well have passed the House.

If today’s vote fails, or doesn’t happen at all, it is likely that the bill will be further weakened. There will be almost no chance of either house passing a public option that can credibly compete with private insurers, and health care costs will continute to rise at alarming rates.

Americans have been waiting for generations for universal healthcare, and tonight, the House of Representatives has a chance to make history. AFSCME is asking progressive voters around the country to call their Representative to express support for health care reform. Call John Adler today and tell him to support the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

Saturday Vote on Health Care is the Essential Moment for Democrats

Update: At 4:45 today (Thursday) there will be a live chat with Jared Bernstein and Senator Brown (D-OH).

We are now in the 72-hour waiting period as Democrats move to a vote in the House of Representatives that will likely be on Saturday. Senator Ted Kennedy’s recent memoir reminded us all how long a struggle this has been for our party.

There’s no doubt that in such a major bill, with millions of people and billions of dollars at stake, that man compromises have been made. This reform bill fundamentally preserves the existing system for better or worse. Many of the left are quite sincerely disappointed in choices that have made, and in turn many from other perspectives are also disappointed with parts of the bill. But at the end of the day, this is a reform that bill that will improve health care for millions that already have health care, and will help millions with health care insurance, without protection against medical, without access to routine care. It will literally save tens of thousands of lives every year.

If Democrats stand for anything, it must be to help the working class. This bill will help millions of people, and whatever complaints our New Jersey Democrats have about this aspect or that aspect, they must unite to vote for reform now.  


Frank Pallone on Health Care Reform

This morning Nancy Pelosi released the health care reform bill that the full House of Representatives will consider. Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ6) put out this statement:

“This is history in the making for health care in America,” said Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., a key author. “Once these reforms are enacted, every American will be able to take comfort in the knowledge they will have access to affordable health care and that insurance coverage  won’t be denied or taken away. Good health care is a basic need shared by all Americans, this will make it a basic right for everyone.”

I had the chance to join Pallone’s conference call for the media this afternoon. The messages I took away were:

Pallone is happy with this bill, says it refects for the most part the bil passed by his Energy and Commerce committee.  When asked what disappoints him, he says “nothing.”

He emphasizes that many aspects of reform will take effect immediately. In particular, rescissions, denial of pre-existing coonditions, and  lifetime limits on coverage will be banned. He raised the point that some (certainly not all) of the protections exist in New Jersey state law already, but insurers will find it harder to evade federal law as they now do state law.

Adler on the public option

This is a very welcome development from Saturday’s NJ3 town hall: Representative John Adler now supports a public option.

Adler said he supported providing some type of public option in a reform bill, arguing that it would increase competition among private health insurance companies.

“A public option would be a real hammer in some areas without competition,” he said, adding that he also favors permitting insurance companies to write policies to out-of-state residents.

This is great news. I do think, though, that last bit is odd. Out-of-state insurance policies without New Jersey regulation is exactly what cost Chris Christie his lead over the last month. Why would Adler trumpet his support for a right-wing political loser of a proposal? Now, if Adler is just talking about letting in other insurance companies that obey our local laws, I have no problem, but I find it pretty shocking anyone would deliberately seek to recreate the “South Dakota/Delaware” credit card “race to the bottom.” If you enjoyed 25% interest rates and late fees, you’ll love your new insurance policy. Still, he was facing a pretty hostile audience and I have to congratulate him for standing up for health care reform, a public option, cap-and-trade, and the stimulus.  

Imagine how dumb these Republicans are Adler had to deal with. (They do seem to be self-described conservatives.) They supported Reagan and Bush’s massive deficits. They supported another Bush’s deficits. They borrowed the entire costs of their wars.  But today, with a worldwide recession, they want to follow Herbert Hoover’s policies and complain about debt. If we didn’t live here we wouldn’t believe it.

Bill Bradley and our foolish senators

I found Bill Bradley’s New York Times Op-Ed through dday’s marvelous take-down.  It’s difficult to believe a Senator could write something so foolish, until you realize that we have about a dozen Democratic senators that think like him. So maybe it’s valuable after all to read the piece, and add to dday’s comments.  

Senator Bradley’s idea is that a grand compromise is possible on health care — after all, he says it worked for President Reagan’s tax reforms. He shares his touching story of how he joked around with Reagan. Then he reveals, without noticing the irony, that Bradley and Rostenkowski made the deal because “it might serve as a model for passage of other significant legislation, like deficit reduction and health care reform.”

Do you remember the 1988 balanced budget that resulted?  The universal health care bill of 1987? In short, the poor man still boasts of his great deal, when he was scammed.  

Dday points out that the Republicans have no reason to make the proposed deal in exchange for medical malpractice tort reform because they’ve already got it in most states, and because it is really a minor issue.  Bradley is just reinforcing conservative propaganda in his piece.  But, I’d like to be a bit simpler: What does Bradley think has been going on for the last six months? Has he read the papers? For better or for worse, no one can deny that Max Baucus has been bending over backwards to make a deal. It’s only earned attacks from Republicans.  That Bradley has not noticed suggests he doesn’t read the newspaper he is published in.

Is too much to ask that Bradley pay attention to what has happened this year and when he was Senator before he shares his “wisdom” in the New York Times?