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Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

New Health Bill Tactics

Healthcare, Political, Quality of Life

Amid heavy criticism and declining poll numbers so far as those who support health care reform measures, the Senate is considering breaking the health care bill into two pieces and passing the first piece under the "Byrd Rule" that permits a majority of 51 votes.  This would assure that the first piece would pass IF the Senate Leader can keep the Democrat members under control.  The first piece of legislation would include Federal subsidies to buy insurance, expansion of Medicaid and, of course, new taxes to pay for these two pieces.

There is now some serious discussion about whether the use of the 51 vote simply majority (reconciliation) would be proper for this type of bill.  This is defined under what is referred to as the Byrd Rule.  That suggests that such use would be improper and might well lead to Republicans raising that issue thus requiring the Senate to get to a 60 vote majority if the first piece of the bill were to be able to be passed.

The second piece of legislation would mandate insurance coverage for all Americans who would face a financial penalty if they didn't have insurance.  It would also end insurers' use of pre-existing condition rules and would establish a uniform national cap on out-of-pocket cost.  These items will cause some angst since the mandate is viewed as heavy-handed by some Americans.

Finally, and maybe most critical is that which isn't discussed in either the first or second piece.  The two huge items that have not yet found a home in one or the other of the pieces are the "public health option" and the use of exchanges where people would be required to go to 'shop' for their insurance coverage.  The exchange would essentially kill the role of the insurance agent in all things relating to health care.

Underlying these possibilities, there is the elephant in the room that no one is yet willing to openly discuss.  There is the growing possibility that ObamaCare will simply not get passed this time around.  If that were to happen, I would be very surprised to see any political will to bring this discussion back for several years.  There'd be nibbling around the edges but nothing so substantial as to completely change the way you and me get our health care and pay for it today.

The people are now becoming more engaged in this debate and that doesn't necessarily bode well for those who support the changes being pushed.  There is the growing specter that political carnage will follow if the current proposals are rammed through by Congress.  And politicians hate the thought of losing their coveted seats and compensation packages.  That would see both financial and ego damage in many cases.

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The Curmudgeon Blog today is titled "Don't You Dare!".

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