The Senate voted 56-43 yesterday to pass the House reconciliation bill’s package of “fixes” to their earlier version of Obamacare that was signed into law Tuesday by the President. Having stripped out two provisions under the Byrd Rule, the bill had to go back to the House again for a final, final vote passing 220-207 last night.
Congress is now headed home to their states and districts for a two-week Easter break. It’ll be the first opportunity for Democrats to face the music from voters at home.
Following the Christmas Eve vote on the Senate healthcare bill that included the infamous Cornhusker Kickback, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and his group were booed out of a restaurant. The House reconciliation bill “fixes” passed last night did not strip out that unpopular measure, it merely expanded federal government taxpayer funding for Medicaid to all states.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, issued a timeline for implementation of the leviathan bill. (As Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said Monday, “it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.”)
The vote for the reconciliation bill “fix” mainly added more taxes, more cuts to Medicare and included a government takeover of the student loan industry.
“The Democrats healthcare bill is so flawed that it hasn’t been law for three days and yet this is the third time we have voted to ‘fix’ it,” Camp said. “These minor tweaks do nothing to change the fact that this bill spends over $1 trillion, cuts Medicare by over one-half trillion dollars and raises taxes by over one-half trillion dollars.”
The first 48 hours after President Obama signed the bill into law, the fallout to businesses and jobs could already be felt across the nation.
“The Democrats’ healthcare bill is the largest expansion of the federal government and the largest tax increase in our nation’s history,” Camp added. “It is a bill our families and our economy cannot afford. In fact, before the ink was even dry on this legislation, two Midwest manufacturers — John Deere and Caterpillar — announced that the Democrats’ healthcare was already costing them $150 million and $100 million, respectively. Those costs to employers and families are only going to grow in the coming days, weeks and years unless we repeal this bill and replace it with reforms that will lower costs.”
Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.) also spoke of alarms sounded by businesses warning of the profound impact to their companies.
“Employers as varied as John Deere, Verizon, Caterpillar, Honeywell International, ski resorts, and medical device manufacturers have already announced that this government takeover will drive up their costs,” Price said. “The Democrats’ plan punishes families and those who create jobs with trillions of dollars in new spending, taxes, and debt while incentivizing many small and large businesses to drop their employees’ insurance coverage. Health reform shouldn’t mean wrecking our economy and upending Americans’ access to the coverage they enjoy.”
After the vote, Price, an orthopedic surgeon, spoke of the impact of the bill on medical care delivery systems.
“If allowed to go forward, Washington’s encroachment into healthcare will drag down our economy, consume our budget, and leave patients struggling to access medical care,” Price said. “Such disasters can’t be ‘fixed,’ they must be prevented. That means repealing the budget-busting policies that put Washington in charge of healthcare decisions and starting over with affordable reforms that put patients first. Conservatives will continue to work for common-sense policies that promote private-sector jobs and leave power in the hands of patients and families.”
The Dogged Determination Award Goes to Sen. Grassley
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) yesterday introduced a bill that if passed would apply the new healthcare law to the President, Vice President, cabinet members, top White House staff, and the congressional staff who drafted the measure enacted this week.
Similar amendments offered during the healthcare bill reconciliation process were voted down by Democrats.
“As a result, President Obama will not have to live under the Obama healthcare reforms, and neither will the congressional staff who helped to write the overhaul,” Grassley said. “The message to the people at the grassroots is that it’s good enough for you, but not for us.”
Congress could act to pass Grassley’s “Health Reform Accountability Act” at any time. Which sets the stage for what will likely happen a great deal when Congress returns: between now and the November elections, congressional Republicans will force votes at every opportunity to repeal elements of the government takeover of healthcare.