OK… while many are watching the NCAA Basketball games, I’ll be watching the big sports action of the weekend: The Health Care bill in the House of Representatives.
CSPAN is showing BOTH the debates in the House and the Reconciliation Bill debate in the House Rules Committee (on CSPAN 2). The major players will all be out there, making the points or stalling to try and get the bill bogged down. Whatever happens today will determine what gets voted on tomorrow.
I’ll watch the Republicans push as many misstatements and lies as possible, challenge every rule and try to get this put off (the first Repub to speak at the Rules Committee meeting suggested how, if the Dems tried to be bipartisan, we could really get somewhere… in six years!) I’ll watch the Dems restate every point to make it clear (and I understand at some time today all the House Dems are being called into a meeting at the White House today to get their energy up) and try to end run the Repubs whenever possible. How could Basketball even compare?
This will probably run well into the night tonite… time to get out the popcorn and keep abreast of the various blogs that will be commenting on every play.
Excitement and entertainment abound.
Thanks to McClatchy, we have a very nice summary of the plan that Obama outlined last night. I reproduce it here, especially for folks like Eric Cantor who spent the President’s speech texting on his Blackberry and missing the points Obama was making:
Current coverage: Those who now have employer-provided coverage or are insured through Medicare, Medicaid or the Veterans Administration wouldn’t be required to change their plans or their physicians.
Cost : About $900 billion over 10 years.
How it’d be paid for: By finding “savings within the existing health care system,” mostly by trimming waste and rooting out fraud. Also, insurers would be charged a fee for their most expensive policies.
Health insurance exchanges: Consumers and small businesses without coverage could comparison shop at these marketplaces among private and perhaps also public plans. The competition is supposed to help lower prices. The exchanges would take effect in four years.
Pre-existing conditions: Insurers wouldn’t be permitted to deny coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions. Nor could they cancel or dilute coverage when people get very sick.
Affordability: No limits on how much coverage a consumer could get in a year or a lifetime — but limits on out-of-pocket health care expenses. Tax credits would be available for those needing aid.
Preventive medicine: Insurers must cover, at no extra charge, regular preventive care and check-ups, such as mammograms, colonoscopies and routine check-ups.
Public option: People without coverage would be able to choose a not-for-profit government-run insurance plan that would have the same rules and protections that private insurers do. A government option plan might be available only if private insurers fail to meet coverage benchmarks in designated markets. Alternatively, a nonprofit co-op might administer a competitive insurance plan.
Catastrophic insurance: Low-cost coverage would be available in the years before the exchanges are created to protect against financial ruin in case of a serious illness.
Individual insurance mandates: Everyone would have to have basic insurance. Most businesses would be required to offer insurance or “chip in” to help cover workers. Only hardship cases and some small businesses would be exempt.
Medical malpractice lawsuits: The administration will seek experimental “demonstration projects” in different states aimed at helping to revamp the tort system.
OK, that’s it. This morning I’ve heard Republicans on Morning Joe and the other news broadcasts saying the President never really told us the plan and various other comments to show that they are not going to play the game. It does not matter that Obama was both clear and relatively complete in his discourse. This, however, only means that many of them have shown America that they are opting out for purely political reasons and this, along with the insulting behavior of Joe Wilson and Eric Cantor… and all those Repubs who sat on their hand through the speech as Obama scored over 30 standing ovations… is going to weigh heavily on their political futures.