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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Saturday, December 19, 2009

60 votes?

by folkbum

Sometimes it's nice to wake up to good news: Democrats seem to have 60 votes to break a filibuster, and certainly more than 50 to pass something. The House will go along, Obama will sign it, and the Dems will have a bill that seems to do this:
* Reduces Deficits -- estimated to save over $130 billion first ten and roughly $650 billion second ten
* Expands Coverage -- over 94 percent of Americans under 65 years of age, including over 31 million uninsured
* Reduces Costs -- most Americans will see their health care costs reduced relative to projected levels

Makes health care more affordable for Americans by expanding small business tax credits
* $12 billion increase
* Begins in 2010
* Expands wage thresholds for tax credits

Demands greater accountability from insurance companies/ creates more choice and competition
* Medical Loss Ratio 85/80 percent -- Insurance companies will be forced to spend more money on care and less money padding their bottom line.
* Starting immediately children cannot be denied health coverage due to pre-existing conditions
* Insurance companies who jack up their rates will be barred from competing in the exchange.
* Give patients the right to appeal to an independent board if an insurance company denies a coverage claim
* Health insurers will offer national plans to Americans under the supervision of the Office of Personnel Management, the same entity that oversees health plans for Members of Congress.
* Provides significant resources for Community Health Centers
Again, not the bill I would have written, but as I argued earlier this week, there's a bit of a moral imperative here and a very, very small window to get this done. I am moderately hopeful, although Lierberman could still screw it up, I suppose. (For more on why this is a good idea, even as a relatively weak bill, see Kevin Drum and Ezra Klein.

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