Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 13, 2009

FINANCE COMMITTEE APPROVES HEALTH CARE REFORM.... Just moments ago, the Senate Finance Committee approved its health care reform bill on a 14 to 9 vote. Every Democrat on the committee approved the measure, and they were joined by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) who broke party ranks. The committee's nine remaining Republicans rejected the legislation.

More soon.

Update: Any minute now, we can expect to hear a reaction from the White House on the committee vote, which will probably be characterized as a "milestone." The adjective may sound a little hyperbolic, but it's worth pausing to appreciate the significance of what we're witnessing.

The Washington Post noted this morning, "The finance panel's vote marks a watershed in the quest to overhaul the country's health-care system. Not since Theodore Roosevelt proposed universal health care during the 1912 presidential campaign has any such bill come this far."

Time will tell how the process unfolds from here, but health care reform has faced a variety of high hurdles, and gone up against some enormous pressures. It had five committees in two chambers to get through, and as of this afternoon, it's cleared all five.

Americans have been waiting for health care reform for far too long. And as of today, reform is headed to the House and Senate floors for the first time ever.

The sausage-making process, which has at times been ugly and messy this year, isn't going to get any easier in the coming weeks, and lawmakers have some heavy lifting to do, not to mention huge questions to answer.

But as of this minute, health care reform is so close we can taste it.

Steve Benen 2:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

Excellent news. I can only hope they end of addressing the self-insured plan side of the equation in committee. Now for the real work.

Posted by: Scott F. on October 13, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Makes you wonder how those 9 republicans can live with their conscience...

Oh. Right. Stupid question.

Posted by: JJC on October 13, 2009 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

The rethugs are all on TV now saying that it is a terrible bill, and they are not really really opposed to reform, but it should be done differently
of course they do not reference their non-existent plans.

Posted by: JS on October 13, 2009 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Get a robust public option or else...

Posted by: koreyel on October 13, 2009 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Great.

Now we can drop this bill and get on with consolidating the other four bills.

Posted by: Joe Friday on October 13, 2009 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

What's the over/under on Snowe switching parties?

Posted by: a different phil on October 13, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Theodore Roosevelt, eh? Yet another Republican in favor of health care reform who won't be voting on it.

Posted by: KTinOhio on October 13, 2009 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, well we did "Credit Card Reform" in the spring and that is turning out to be a windfall filled with loopholes for banks, so...

I hope this passes, but worry about the fine print.

Posted by: Rob Goldman on October 13, 2009 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to know what we're celebrating before I celebrate. What exactly should we be happy about?

I just lost my job (company closed and everyone there is laid off), and COBRA is $950/mo. The economic stimulus subsidizes that a little, but those end Dec 31, 2009.

Just when I lost my income, my expenses jumped about a thousand a month. Wheee.

Posted by: anonymous on October 13, 2009 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose the Raypbulic naysayers are all over cable "news"...think I'll pass on all the hysterical ranting.

INCLUDE A REAL, OPEN-TO-ALL, ROBUST PUBLIC OPTION IN THE FINAL BILL!!!

Posted by: pirate wench on October 13, 2009 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

So now that it's finally a done deal that a health care reform bill will go to the Senate floor, will the House go ahead and vote, or will they wait on the Senate to go first?

I'd kinda prefer it if the House went first. Because then if a recalcitrant Dem Senator or two decided to vote against cloture, they'd pretty much bear the entire onus of having blocked health care reform.

I don't think any Democratic Senator wants to be the sole vote, or even part of a small group, who would bear full responsibility for killing this reform. By voting first, I think the House would give Reid a pretty powerful club to keep the Senate's Business Dogs in line with.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on October 13, 2009 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Their bill is flawed, but I have high hopes we'll get something decent out of the reconciliation process.

Also, kudos to Snowe for doing the right thing in the face of rethug intimidation. I suggest she take this moment to abandon their sinking ship and come over to our side.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on October 13, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

So, we're a little closer to being forced to subsidize those obscene "perks" of the insurance industry CEOs? And there will still be millions w/out healthcare? And nothing kicks in until 2012/3?

Wow . . . just wow.

.
.

Posted by: ROF on October 13, 2009 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Anonymous,

You're right, you've got nothing to celebrate now. Hope you make it through this. I just sent a check for $775 to a friend who's out of work, broke, has AIDS, and needs the money for rent.

The more fortunate among us can celebrate that soon stories like these will be much rarer.

Posted by: Also anonymous on October 13, 2009 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

As atrios (or is it kos? or both? I'm easily confused...) would say, "reward good behavior."
A brief note of appreciation and support to Sen. Snowe might be helpful. She's going to be tarred and feathered by her party over this... and if we're lucky, that will stop short of being literal.

Posted by: smartalek on October 13, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

As I posted on the thread below, since it's on topic here. Right after the vote, rethugs Kyl, Enzi and Grassley spoke (still spewing fear and lies) at a podium outside the hearing room, and as shown on MSNBC, about 6 feet behind them was a man holding a sign saying "Single-Payer NOW!". Freaking hysterical! And way to go, unidentified man!

Posted by: Hannah on October 13, 2009 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Now the rallying cry should be get the Public Option through the conference committee and on President Obama's desk to sign by Thanksgiving - oh what a gift to give ourselves and be thankful all at the same time! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on October 13, 2009 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

This is really, really, REALLY great news for the McCain campaign!

Posted by: eeyore on October 13, 2009 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

What ROF said. In no way, shape or form can Baucuscare be described as "health care reform" without invoking 1984. Moreover, the "need" to keep President Snowe on board will now insure that the final bill is not much different from Baucus's. Feh. What a fiasco.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on October 13, 2009 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

as shown on MSNBC, about 6 feet behind them was a man holding a sign saying "Single-Payer NOW!". Freaking hysterical! And way to go, unidentified man!

most excellent!!

anon, I am very sorry you lost your job. Hang in there - hopefully they'll come up with a stop gap to help out the unemployed fairly quickly.

Also, here's to hoping your period of unemployment is measured in nano-seconds.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on October 13, 2009 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Mob trading cards

What's the over/under on Snowe switching parties?

No idea. But I'll trade you my Lieberman rookie card and a vintage 1980 Charlie Rangel for your Snowe and a couple of sticks of gum...

Posted by: koreyel on October 13, 2009 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Anonymous, who said, "Just when I lost my income, my expenses jumped about a thousand a month. Wheee." At what point do you and others in similar positions express your sincere and authentic outrage to the a**holes in Congress and the insurance companies. At some point the desparate will mount a "real" assault on the freaks who see healthcare as a profit center. Death Panels, indeed!

Posted by: st john on October 13, 2009 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hooray? I'll believe in reform when we see a reformation.

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on October 13, 2009 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Will this be Jim DeMint's waterloo?

Posted by: JS on October 13, 2009 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

"But as of this minute, health care reform is so close we can taste it."

If the final product is anything like the Baucus Bill, it's going to taste like shit.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 13, 2009 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

I second the bdop4. We are still just talking about sickcare, insurance fraud.

Posted by: st john on October 13, 2009 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the good wishes, everyone.

Posted by: anonymous on October 13, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

But as of this minute, health care reform is so close we can taste it.

And it tastes like chicken.

Posted by: Gaia on October 13, 2009 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

There's a huge amount of politics between now and whether Snowe votes for or against the final bill. By voting for it now, she retains a lot more influence over the final outcome than if she had voted no.

Posted by: N.Wells on October 13, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Olympia Snowe has put the American people ahead of the Republican party today and I congratulate her for that.

Posted by: Chris R on October 13, 2009 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

"...there is a lack of alignment for the major participants as the current health care system is structured. Providers, payers, employers, pharma, legislation, regulation and patients lack a singular goal or focus which leads to dysfunctional behaviors from the various players. In most industries, there is a clear focus on serving the needs of the ultimate consumer. This is not the case in health care. Each player is more closely aligned and focused on optimizing their own interests than on delivering systemic outcomes that serve the needs of all." Ron Wince, president and CEO of Guidon Performance solutions.
http://www.ourblook.com/component/option,com_sectionex/Itemid,200076/id,8/view,category/#catid107
I really couldn't find the words to say it better, so I quoted him.
I can only hope that the bill does pass, it would be a step in the right direction towards repairing the health care system and getting coverage for everyone.

Posted by: JMaguire on October 13, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, what we can taste is piss, and you know it (or should know.) It is reported to have no public option, which makes the whole thing a worthless farce. Forcing people to buy private insurance with no alternative is just a bait and switch trick. You will have to either report it that way by and by, or not be taken seriously as a progressive voice. I really, really, expect the latter.

Posted by: N e i l B : - O on October 13, 2009 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

So close we can taste it. And it tastes like crap.

Health care reform that won't provide better health care to anyone, that will end up costing more, but will surely enrich the insurance companies and providers that created the crisis.

Even if the very best of the five bills that are under consideration were passed, NONE of it takes effect until 2013. By then, when people learn what's in it, there's no chance it won't be repealed. As it should be. Tragic fail so far on the part of Obama especially, Baucus and the Senate particularly, but national elected Democrats in general. They learned nothing from 1994 and Clinton. 2010 will prove it.

Posted by: NealB on October 13, 2009 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

not to mention huge questions to answer.

Really?

Do you want or expect them to post the complete text somewhere for a decent length of time for review by all interested parties and voters?

I expect that no bill that is given a complete and public reading will be passed.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on October 13, 2009 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

I expect that no bill that is given a complete and public reading will be passed.

That's rich, Marler, considering that 1) at least one of the House bills is already online -- which I pointed out to you before after a mere five seconds on Google, and which you dishonestly pretend you don't know -- and 2) the right got all its death panel and illegal immigrant bullshit by willfully misinterpreting their provisions.

And, of course, the conference committees will likely not bother to post their work for discussion and debate, because at that time the time for debate is past.

Sure, you'd love to set yourself up to pretend that the bills that are passed are somehow illegitimate because they didn't get " a complete and public reading," like that was ever a requirement for Congress in the past, especially with signature Republican legislation like the so-called Patriot act.

So yeah, Marler, we both know that dishonest conservatives -- but I repeat myself -- like yourself will use the posted legislation to make up more bullshit FUD about health care. And we both know that this badly needed legislation means that you might have to give up the Republicans' sweet, sweet tax cuts. So what?

It's refreshing to see that you have no honest argument to offer against the health care legislation, and that you've once again dropped your woefully inadequate pretense as an honest commentator to indulge, yet again, in your typical partisan bullshit.

Shame on you, Marler.

Posted by: Gregory on October 14, 2009 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

The insurance industry will always be greedy, hopefully the health care reform will help people that need it.

Posted by: Amy on October 14, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK
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