The House of Representatives passed into law health care reform legislation Sunday after a last second presidential deal secured the necessary votes from wavering Democrats. The bill now moves onto the Senate where Democrats believe the necessary votes to pass the bill and send it to the White House for signature.
Democrats passed the extremely controversial legislation 220-211, just three votes over the necessary margin of 216. Just hours prior to the final vote, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), the leader of a group of self-proclaimed pro-life Democrats which included Cincinnati's Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH), reached a deal that secured his group's votes in favor of the legislation. Not one Republican voted for the bill, and over 30 Democrats voted against it.
In exchange for their votes, President Obama has "assured" the congressmen that he will sign an executive order guaranteeing that no federal funds will be used to fund abortions. This agreement apparently satisfied the likes of Stupak and Driehaus and thus secured a victory for Dems.
As many pundits pointed out Sunday, executive orders hold no weight whatsoever when they conflict with legislation. If a challenge to Obama's executive order is made on the basis of law set forth in Roe v. Wade, many expect the executive order would crumble. Despite the transparency of this assurance, the members of Stupak's gang jumped at the opportunity to vote in favor of the health care legislation.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the legislation awaiting the president's approval would extend coverage to 32 million Americans who lack it, ban insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.
The CBO is careful to point out, however, that their financial conclusions are based solely on the assurances of the Democrats. For instance, the deficit cuts are based upon promises that Congress and the White House will cuts "wasteful spending" in Medicaid and Medicare to reduce the nation's debt. If that doesn't happen, the numbers clearly will not be accurate.
For the first time, most Americans would be required to purchase insurance, and face penalties if they refused.
Republicans attacked the bill without let-up, warning it would harm the economy while mandating a government takeover of the health care system.
"The American people know you can't reduce health care costs by spending $1 trillion or raising taxes by more than one-half trillion dollars. The American people know that you cannot cut Medicare by over one-half trillion dollars without hurting seniors," said Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich).
"And, the American people know that you can't create an entirely new government entitlement program without exploding spending and the deficit."
To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade. In addition, the bills cut more than $500 billion from planned payments to hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other providers that treat Medicare patients. An estimated $200 billion would reduce planned subsidies to insurance companies that offer a private alternative to traditional Medicare.
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