Here we go. The Speaker is announcing the new health care bill.
“They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well numbers are worth a lot too.” She’s reiterating the CBO numbers. Bill will be online a little bit later today.
Two reasons to do health care reform: 1) expand coverage, 2) reduce the deficit (health care reform is entitlement reform).
Pelosi offers the mike to a doctor and small business owner, Ed Morris, to tell his personal story.
Steny Hoyer is up now, reiterates that this bill is the biggest deficit reduction bill since the 1993 Clinton budget. Responds to query of what the bill does for individuals. Health care has the highest costs in the world. Harmful to small businesses, who see competition from foreign companies with lower health care costs. Touting the tax credits for small business to purchase insurance, good for businesses and their employees. Those credits kick in immediately.
Kim Muldovsky, a woman from Illinois with a pre-existing condition, is up now. This woman had a $65,000 deductible on her policy. Wow.
James Clyburn, the Majority Whip, is speaking. Says it’s time to pass health insurance reform, recounts some stories of people in his district with health problems.
John Larson, a member of the House leadership, is speaking. Says it comes down to “whose side are you on”. Waiting for the Q&A, the rest of this is mainly fluff.
…After some other personal stories, Pelosi is back at the mike. Stresses how important they are to hear. Pelosi says that previous woman said “being a woman is a pre-existing condition.” Pelosi told she was a poor risk after having 5 children “I thought I was strong.” Bill ends gender discrimination on coverage ratings.
…says health care reform is the best way to create jobs, strengthen economic security and keep America competitive.
Q: Why are you having a hard time getting 216? Pelosi: Every vote is a heavy lift. We have great diversity in our caucus. Members want to see the numbers, and want to see what the Senate will do. Shows impact of a campaign of fear from the other side to protect the insurance companies.
Q: Over $900B. How paid for (that was Lil’ Luke Russert)? Pelosi: We’ll put the complete report on the website. Biggest covering of cost comes from cutting waste, fraud and abuse, largely in Medicare. Remainder comes from a number of things. Our members did not like excise tax. Higher end of that is in the plan, rest will be covered by a Medicare fee on unearned income. No cuts in Medicare benefits or increases in premiums. Medicare solvent for 9 more years.
Q: Removing special deals? All out? Pelosi: Largely, the difference btw House and Senate bills: More affordability (for the first 10 years -ed.). Did not like state inequities, this bill corrects them. Medicaid reimbursements more fair to all of the states. Includes rewarding do-gooder states that had these Medicaid expansion. Funding for primary care doctors who add Medicaid cases. Close the donut hole.
Q: (unintelligible)? Pelosi: CBO is usually very conservative in estimates. They gave us no credit for prevention and wellness initiatives. No credit for early intervention. We don’t get any credit for some of the upside we know is there. Larson will talk about Health IT.
Larson: Reuters predicted earlier this year, $700B annually available, RAND projects same kind of savings that can accrue. Ability to coordinate care: interoperability, cases followed systematically, with updated technology. That will be a big savings in the future.
Q: deem and pass? Pelosi: You’re talking about regular order that has been used hundreds of times. Poisoning of the well indicative of insurance companies trying to stop this legislation. Decision would spring from CBO report. Urgency greater now, because the opportunity greater. Larson: Our members are concerned about the process of rescission and cancelled policies, not Congressional process.
Pelosi: We feel very strong about where we are in terms of the CBO report. Our guests have spoken eloquently about their concerns. We’re going to go forward now, share these numbers more fully, you will see it on the Internet shortly.