Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Status of Health Care Legislation

My friend, Dr. Paul Hsieh, has been following the health care bill and fighting it every step of the way.  The following is his update, as of this morning, as to what’s going on.  You can read more about Paul and his efforts to preserve our rights by fighting this awful legislation at his FIRM blog.

In response to a question I received about the current status of the Health Care bill, here is a short summary:

The US Senate still has a couple more procedural votes, then the final vote is tentatively scheduled for Christmas Eve.  I personally think that the Democrats' 60-vote coalition will hold throughout the process:


(It still won't hurt to contact your Senators, but the chance that it will change anyone's position now is fairly small.  Nonetheless, I've still e-mailed my Senators and will continue to do so until the final vote.)

If the Senate does pass its version, then it has to be reconciled with the House's version.  Normally, this is just a formality.  Members from both houses come up with some compromise, and it's resubmitted to both Houses for a final vote which passes easily.

Only in rare cases such as this (where one house has just barely enough votes for its version and there are contentious provisions that differ in the two versions), then the House-Senate "conference" to reconcile the two versions could get tricky:

"Democrats Face Challenge in Merging Health Bills"
NYT, 12/22/2009

In this case, many of the differences are about a variety of issues that for us are non-essential -- taxpayer funding for abortions, taxes on "Cadillac" health plans, etc.
One strategy: Pelosi and the House could just decide to swallow hard and vote to accept the Senate version for now -- so that there's *something* to send to the President by his State of the Union address in January 2010.   They could then claim that they will address some of these contentious secondary issues (abortion, etc.) later.

Or the House-Senate conference could make some changes which might then require complex re-negotiations (i.e., favor trading and "pull") to ensure enough votes in both Houses.
It could go either way.

But basically, this reconciliation process between the two houses would probably be our last chance to alter the legislative outcome.

This won't happen until after the Senate vote, and I will definitely send updates as I learn more.

For now, the action is still in the Senate.  And the bill remains unpopular with Americans with latest support only 36%:
So if you want to contact your Senators, you can still try...


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