Holy crap… yes we did!

Almost three months ago to the day, I wrote about the senate health care reform (HCR) bill, how they had achieved cloture and would vote on Christmas eve.  Since December, things haven’t looked all that good for HCR.  A weak candidate in Massachusetts lost to a republican underwear model (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and the Democrats started doing the Democratic thing, which mostly consists of herding all of the cats into a circle and giving them guns to take shots at each other [1].  At one point in late January, the chances of any sort of HCR passing were very close to zero (Intrade was giving it around 22%).

Since then, President Obama has gotten more involved, and Nancy Pelosi (who love her or hate her will go down in history as one of the most effective Speakers of the House in recent memory) started working on her colleagues and the odds went up significantly.  In the past week, it looked almost certain that the House would pass the Senate’s bill and then fix the worst budgetary issues in reconciliation.  It was looking so certain, that the ignorant cretins in the teaparty were out in force, spitting and hurling racist and homophobic comments at legislators.

In spite of all that happened, last night the House did vote to pass the Senate bill.  Then came a Republican motion to recommit the reconciliation bill in an effort to spike the whole thing by driving a wedge between the pro-choice and anti-abortion wedges of the Democratic party.  That failed after Bart Stupak gave an impassioned speech saying that he believed that the current senate language plus the president’s executive order did uphold the Hyde amendment and that the bill was pro-life.  In his words, the bill was pro-life because it not only protected children before they were born, but it helped to ensure that their mothers received pre- and post-natal care, that the children would have insurance and that we know that children and families with insurance are healthier than those without.

Over the past few months, I’ve called Stupak a wanker on more than one occasion, but last night he stepped up and helped to pass health care reform for everyone.  After the vote to recommit, I went to bed (it was after 11pm and I was a bit tired), but the reconciliation bill was voted upon and also passed!

What’s next?  Well, the senate will probably pass the reconciliation bill today.  That will clean up the crap that they had to stick into the bill in order to overcome a republican filibuster.  The President will sign the bill Tuesday.  Then we’ll start seeing some changes.  The bill was begin to close the doughnut hole for drug coverage that the Republicans put into Medicare Part D.  It will begin to limit the insurance companies’ ability to shaft policy holders.  And by 2014, we’ll see the mandate that everyone must have insurance coverage, even if it is subsidized for the poor. Sometime between now and 2014, Democrats will hopefully start to improve the bill.  We still may not get to single payer any time soon, but we might get a public option.

From my standpoint, not too much will change.  I’ll continue to receive insurance through my company.  The congressional budget office (CBO) projects that my company’s costs for insurance will go down about 3%.  Best of all, I stop having to worry about losing insurance if I lose my job or decide to change jobs.  Hell, this even gives me some freedom to consider starting my own business without worrying as much about how to afford health insurance.  All in all, passing HCR was an amazing effort and I’m proud to have watched it happen.



[1] FWIW, this is why I still consider myself to be an Independent, even though I almost always vote Democratic – the Democrats are just too fearful of the political consequences of their own popular platform planks?!  Personally, I prefer a much more muscular liberal set of policies than the Democrats are usually willing to consider… even if they agree that those policies would be better for the country.

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