Health Care Reform Update: Senate Finance Committee Sets Vote for Tuesday; Poll: 61 Percent of Voters Favor Public Option; Legislators Tackle Gender Gap …
The vote on the Senate Finance Committee health reform bill has a date: Tuesday, Oct. 13.
The decision comes one day after the Congressional Budget Office reported that the committee’s legislation would cover 29 million uninsured Americans but would still slow the growth of spending and would reduce deficits by a total of $81 billion over a decade.
“Despite the expansion of coverage at a cost of $829 billion over 10 years, the budget office said 25 million people — about one-third of them illegal immigrants — would still be uninsured in 2019,” reports The New York Times. “In all, it said, the proportion of nonelderly Americans with insurance would rise over the 10 years to 94 percent, from 83 percent today.”
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today said that she’s going to send the CBO multiple variations of a health care bill that combines legislation from three different House committees. Ben Pershing at the Washington Post writes:
Pelosi said Thursday that she would send one bill to the CBO with what she called a “robust public option,” that would reimburse health-care providers at 5 percent above Medicare rates. The other two versions would have rates negotiated between the government and providers. “There’s no question that the robust public option scores very well,” Pelosi said, emphasizing that the first version would cost less but acknowledging that it might not be able to garner the 218 votes needed for passage. (Democrats hold 256 seats in the House.) “It’s very close,” she said.
Despite that split in her caucus, Pelosi said she felt “we’re in a very good place, because we have many good options. … There will be the votes for a public option. Now it’s a question of which one.”
After Pelosi gets the CBO’s analysis back, Democratic leaders and the House Rules Committee will complete the job of assembling a bill for floor consideration. The leadership has already ruled out bringing a bill to the floor next week, so the week of Oct. 19 would be the earliest time a vote would occur.
Speaking of a government-run insurance option, a new Qunnipiac University poll shows public support is running 2-to-1, with 61 percent in favor and 34 percent opposed. Other findings: “By a 57-37 percent margin, voters say Congress should not approve a health care overhaul with only Democratic votes. Democrats are OK with a one-party bill 63-29 percent, but opposition is 88-9 percent from Republicans and 62-32 percent from independent voters.”
* Domestic Abuse Victims Struggle with Another Blow: Difficulty Getting Health Insurance: Good story at Kaiser Health News. For background, see this report from the National Women’s Law Center on how the individual health insurance market fails women.
* Health Care Bills Tackle Gender Gap in Coverage: USA Today reports on efforts to include provisions in health care legislation that would ban insurance companies from charging women more for the same policies as men and require companies to provide maternity coverage in their basic plans.
See our previous coverage on this subject, featuring the best line of the 2009 HCR debates: The response by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) when he questioned why maternity coverage should be mandatory when he doesn’t need it — “I think your mom probably did.”
* Health-Reform Anxiety: One Doctor’s Perspective: Anne Brewster, an internist and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, left primary care medicine because she says she “felt unable to care for patients the way I wanted to within the constraints of the current system.”
Now an an urgent-care provider in Boston, Brewster, who is also an Our Bodies Ourselves board member, has written an essay for WBUR public radio on whether health reform will empower doctors.
“Reform should make my job more, not less, satisfying,” writes Brewster. “Of course, doctors should be expected to offer the highest quality care in the most cost-effective manner, but policies must be built on a foundation of trust in physician motivation and competency. Most physicians have a sound knowledge base, and are driven by a genuine desire to take care of people and ‘do no harm.’ Professional autonomy must be protected. Instead of imposing mandates and restrictions from above like an authoritarian parent, policy makers should work to provide physicians with the tools to meet these expectations.” Continue reading …