Texas Talks Health Care Reform...Loudly
If you’ve been under a rock the last two days, or perhaps still recovering from SXSW, you might not know...
that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the controversial health care bill Sunday with a vote of 219 to 212.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office summarizes the bill, H.R. 3590, as follows:
H.R. 3590 would, among other things, establish a mandate for most residents of the United States to obtain health insurance; set up insurance exchanges through which certain individuals and families could receive federal subsidies to substantially reduce the cost of purchasing that coverage; significantly expand eligibility for Medicaid; substantially reduce
the growth of Medicare’s payment rates for most services (relative to the growth rates projected under current law); impose an excise tax on insurance plans with relatively high premiums; and make various other changes to the federal tax code, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs.
The CBO released this statement explaining the estimated costs of the bill.
Some of the widely supported components of the bill include allowing young adults to remain on their parents insurance until age 26, and preventing insurance agencies from denying coverage to consumers based on “pre-existing conditions. The bill will expand coverage to 32 million Americans.
If you aren’t insured and do not obtain health insurance, you’ll face a federal penalty starting in 2014 – though it’s a bit unclear how strictly the government will enforce that.
The first year, uninsured consumers will owe $95, or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. Eventually the penalty will rise, reaching $695, or 2 percent of income.
Families that fall below the income-tax filing thresholds will not have to pay a penalty.
Subsidies and employer mandates are some of the more controversial aspects of the bill, along with the sheer cost - $938 billion over 10 years.
The Tex Factor
Texas has 32 members in the House – all the Dems except U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, voted aye (or is it yay?) and all of the Republicans voted nay.
One particularly loud Texas voice came from Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R- Lubbock (above), who shouted “Baby killer” to Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan. Stupak, a pro-life Dem, voted for the bill, although he had written an amendment that prohibited the federal funding of abortions, which didn’t make the final bill. Here’s a video of the outburst.
Here is a statement from Neugebauer:
Last night was the climax of weeks and months of debate on a health care bill that my constituents fear and do not support. In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase ‘it's a baby killer' in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership. While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself.
I have apologized to Mr. Stupak and also apologize to my colleagues for the manner in which I expressed my disappointment about the bill. The House Chamber is a place of decorum and respect. The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate.
Other Texas Republicans are fighting against the bill with legal, rather than verbal, action. Attorney General Greg Abbott is filing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the bill. He said in a statement that the suit is meant "to protect all Texans' constitutional rights, preserve the constitutional framework intended by our nation's founders, and defend our state from further infringement by the federal government, the State of Texas and other states will legally challenge the federal health care legislation."
Check out the long list of comments on his Facebook wall. They range from “Hey Greg, you are an idiot” to “We support you, Greg, all the way from Pennsylvania!”
Governor Rick Perry has also expressed his disdain for the bill.
Texas leaders will continue to do everything in our power to find ways to protect our families, taxpayers and medical providers from the federal government’s misguided efforts to take over our health care system and infringe upon the fundamental rights of individuals and the state.
My office is working closely with fellow governors and with Attorney General Greg Abbott to explore the state’s options, including legal action, to challenge the constitutionality of this national health care bill that will cost Texas taxpayers billions of dollars and drive down the quality of health care.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, voted for the bill, though he said the bill should have included a Medicare-type public option.
The bill passed by the Senate on Christmas Eve, and of course by the House on Sunday night. It will become the law of the land when President Obama signs it, which White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said will happen tomorrow. The President will then be traveling the country to try to garner more public support for the bill.
Then the Senate will try to pass the changes to the bill that the House approved last night.
For extremely detailed info, like subsidy calculators, side-by-side comparisons of the various reforms and public opinion polls, the Kaiser Family Foundation is one of the best sites.
Here’s a great timeline of how the bill will take effect from the Austin American-Statesman.
Please comment with your thoughts on health care reform, how the bill might affect you, etc. Or, even better, submit your own post.