Healthcare Mess Deepens

The markup resumed yesterday on the healthcare bill, H.R. 3200, in the House Energy & Commerce Committee.  The Blue Lapdogs have caved in and the government takeover of healthcare is expected to pass out of the third and final House committee of jurisdiction  later today.  The markup was the usual scene: Democrats running roughshod over anything sensible, like requiring proof of citizenship to sign up for government run healthcare on the taxpayer dime.

Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) offered an amendment in the markup that would have ensured the laws barring illegal aliens from legally signing up for Medicaid would also apply to the new government run healthcare system that Democrats are determined to construct.  

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Ca.), the uber-liberal committee chair, feigned concern for hospitals not being able to be reimbursed for treating illegals and therefore going broke.  His solution, of course, was to impose the cost of treating illegals on the taxpayers.  The Deal amendment failed.

Zack Space (D-Ohio) and Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) are two Blue Lapdogs on the committee who voted against the amendment barring proof of citizenship to sign up for government run healthcare.  They joined the rest of the liberals in committee paying for healthcare for illegal aliens with your tax dollars.  The amendment is here (pdf) and the committee vote tally is here

Outside of the markup, I caught up to Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), a senior member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, and asked about the proof of citizenship amendment that had just been smacked down by Democrats.

“They clearly just voted that illegal immigrants should get free healthcare under this bill — period,” Shadegg said.  “It’s obvious that the Blue Dogs are, in fact, lapdogs.  They have given in, they have caved, as was predicted they would do. … Having caved they’re now going to accept every amendment that the Democrats want and reject every amendment that the Republicans want.  And the bill gets worse and worse by the moment.”

I asked how the bill in markup was shaping up to protect healthcare for the elderly.  

“The scary thing is exactly how far they will go under this bill,” Shadegg said.  “If you listen to their rhetoric it means that the elderly are going to get sick, get into those late stages of life and they’re going to be told that in America you really kind of owe it to the country to go off and get hospice counseling and go away.”

They’re throwing grandma and grandpa under the bus.  I asked Shadegg about the August break, how things might play out for the House bill.

“Assuming they push the bill through, the American people will get August to look at how bad this bill is and how many of their current freedoms they’re going to lose,” Shadegg said.

“They’re going to lose virtually every healthcare freedom they have.  They’re going to lose the freedom to pick their own doctor.  They’re going to lose the freedom to pick a high-deductible catastrophic care policy.  They’re going to lose the right to pick their own healthcare plan.  They’re going to get stuck in a system that is Washington, D.C., command and control — bureaucrats in Washington dictating what services they get and what services they can’t get.  I think that will be a disaster and I hope the American people say that’s not what they want.”

I also spoke with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) in the hallway outside the markup about the Blue Lapdog rollover and what Democrats are now putting into the bill.

“This bill still adds tremendous costs that are unaccounted for and it raises over $800 billion in new taxes on American families and small businesses,” Scalise said.  “If they really want to do healthcare reform they should go back to the table and work with Republicans who’ve put forth good, sound ideas on the table to fix the problems that exist without breaking all the things that make medical care in America the best in the world.  We’ll go back in the August recess and show the American people all the parts of their bill that actually allow the government to ration care, to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and literally allow hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes on American families.  Government takeover is not the answer.  There is a better way.”

The markup continues today.

Republican Study Committee Unveils Healthcare Plan

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Chairman of the Republican Study Committee and a former orthopedic surgeon, unveiled his conservative group’s healthcare plan yesterday, the Empowering Patients First Act.  Focused on allowing the patient control over their own insurance and healthcare decisions, this plan actually incorporates the tort reform reported  on HUMAN EVENTS earlier this week.

The bill would allow patient ownership of the policy, which would solve the portability problem when workers lose or change jobs.  A combination of tax credits and tax incentives combine to make private insurance available to everyone.  Larger risk pools and shopping across state lines for insurance also provide lower prices and guarantee coverage for those with prior conditions. In short, this bill gives you everything the Democrats don’t want you to have: it gives you, not the government, control over your own healthcare decisions.

A summary of the plan is available online here (pdf).

“Throughout the debate on health care reform, the President has unfortunately insisted on presenting Americans with a false choice between either a continuation of the status quo or a government-takeover of health care,” Price said.  “In reality, there has always been a third way that increases patients’ control over their own health care. With the Empowering Patients First Act, we can achieve reform that lowers costs and provides all Americans access to quality health care without placing Washington bureaucrats between you and your doctor.”

Price also joined Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), another Republican doctor, in accepting President Obama’s offer to members of Congress to go to the White House and go over the health care bill with him “line-by-line.”  

In a town hall meeting in North Carolina Wednesday, Obama said, “When we come back in September, I will be available to answer any questions that members of Congress have.  If they want to come over to the White House and go over line-by-line what’s going on, I will be happy to do that.”

Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs, in the White House briefing yesterday, answered a question about the acceptance of the President’s offer.  

“If you give me that letter I’ll forward it to scheduling so we can get that done,” Gibbs said with a straight face.

Pelosi and Clyburn Make No Promises to Blue Lapdogs

In separate media appearances, hard core liberal House leaders Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal), and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) the Majority Whip, each confirmed that the promises made to their Blue Lapdogs only pertained to the Energy & Commerce Committee.  They make absolutely no guarantees that the promises made will be kept otherwise.

“I don’t think there was any deal with Chairman Waxman,” Pelosi said in her weekly briefing.  “I think there was an agreement as to how the committee would proceed. … But I remind you that this is one piece of a tri-committee process that we have here and two committees in the United States Senate.”

Clyburn told an ABC interviewer that he could not guarantee that the deal made with the Lapdogs would end up in the final product.

“We have absolutely no idea,” Clyburn said.

The benefit to Americans is that the Blue Dogs — even the four who sold out to Waxman — are free to vote against the bill when it eventually reaches the House floor this fall.  Constituents should remind them of that — repeatedly — over the recess.