Pelosi Unveils $894B House Health Plan on Capitol Steps; 10 Teabaggers Show Up To Protest

This bill is not the robust public option that were were expecting. Why Nancy Pelosi didn't do what Harry Reid did and just put it in, which would lay the onus of removing it on the backs of the obstructionist blue dogs, is beyond me.

Anyway, here's the announcement (via TPM):

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is unveiling the House health care reform bill this morning. In her opening remarks, she said, "Today we are about to deliver on a promise of making affordable quality health care available for all Americans, laying a foundation for a brighter future for generations to come."

Pelosi said the bill will "insure 36 million more Americans" and "will not add one dime to the deficit" -- covering 96 percent of Americans and costing less than $900 billion. The bill includes a public option and will end "discrimination for preexisting medical conditions."

She said the plan will be put online "for all Americans to see." You can read it here.

From the AP (via MSNBC):

WASHINGTON - After months of struggle, House Democrats unveiled sweeping legislation Thursday to extend health care coverage to millions who lack it and create a new option of government-run insurance. A vote is likely next week on the plan patterned closely on President Barack Obama's own.


The ceremony marked a pivotal moment in Democrats' yearlong attempt to answer Obama's call for legislation to remake the nation's health care system by extending insurance, ending industry practices such as denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions, and slowing the growth of medical spending nationwide.


Obama issued a statement saying House Democrats had reached a "critical milestone" on the road toward a health care overhaul, and singled out the proposed government insurance option. He also said the bill "clearly meets two of the fundamental criteria I have set out: It is fully paid for and will reduce the deficit in the long term."


Democrats issued a statement saying their measure "lowers costs for every patient" and would not add to federal deficits. They put the cost of coverage at under $900 billion over 10 years, a total that didn't include money needed to avoid a scheduled 21 percent cut in doctor fees under Medicare, and omitted other items as well.

Here are the basic details about the bill via the NY Times (h/t mcjoan):

Members of the House Democratic leadership team offered these details of their bill, to be unveiled on Thursday. It would provide coverage to 35 million or 36 million people. The 10-year cost of expanding coverage would be less than the $900 billion ceiling suggested by President Obama. The cost would be offset by new taxes and by cutbacks in Medicare, so the bill would not increase the federal budget deficit in the next 10 years or in the decade after that.

The new bill, like an earlier version, retains a surtax on high-income people, but increases the thresholds. The tax would hit married couples with adjusted gross incomes exceeding $1 million a year and individuals over $500,000 — just three-tenths of 1 percent of all households, Democrats said....

The new House bill would expand Medicaid to cover childless adults, parents and others with incomes less than 150 percent of the poverty level, or $33,075 for a family of four. This goes beyond the earlier House bill and a companion measure in the Senate, which would extend Medicaid to people with incomes less than 133 percent of the poverty level ($29,327 for a family of four).

This change saves money. It is less expensive for the federal government to cover low-income people under Medicaid than to provide them with subsidies to buy private insurance.


The problem with this less robust version of the public option is spelled out by DKos' slinkerwink, who has been fighting the good fight on health care reform from day one:
I've been thinking about the recent developments over the night and into this morning where the House unveiled their merged bill without the robust public option that Speaker Pelosi had been fighting for and that our Progressives in the House had been fighting for as well. Am I disappointed that the robust version of the public option isn't in the House bill? Yes, I am, only because it sends us to the conference process with a weaker hand where the debate likely would be moved to the right without consistent grassroots pressure from us. It's why so many of us were hoping that Speaker Pelosi would ignore the Blue Dogs and put in the robust version of the public option, just like Senator Reid had ignored the conservadems in the Senate that wanted a triggered public option, and instead went in with a trigger-free national public option.


And there won't be any amendments offered on the floor, so Rep. Weiner's single-payer amendment and the Medicare plus 5% amendment by Grijalva will never get offered because the House leadership didn't want the Blue Dog Democrats to offer their anti-abortion amendments. I can understand the reasoning behind that, but Rep. Weiner and other single-payer advocates in the House had been promised that they would have the chance to bring forth a single-payer amendment. Also, the Rep. Kucinich amendment which was voted on in committee and made its way into the bill, won't even be a part of the final House bill, so the states would not have the ability to ask for a waiver to create a single-payer plan for their states.

People will have to pay a higher share of their premiums, which means lower subsidies, because the Blue Dogs didn't want the House to go with the robust public option, which would've saved more money and had more subsidies to make health care affordable for Americans. And you can see the price of giving in to the Blue Dog Democrats from the changes made to the bill,as provided by this link.

read more....
On a lighter note, just 10 Teabaggers or so showed up to protest Pelosi's health reform bill announcement.

LOL (via TPM):

It certainly wasn't the "flash mob" organizers were hoping for, but a small but determined group of Tea Party Patriots gathered on the Capitol Lawn this morning to protest the announcement of a final House health care reform bill.

TPMDC counted about 10 Tea Partiers holding signs denouncing a "government takeover" of health care and looking with disdain as House Democrats gathered on the Capitol Steps. They stood in a larger group of protesters from other groups, mostly focused on abortion rights.

Joann Abbott, a grandmother from Northern Virginia, made the drive to the protest this morning after seeing the email sent by Tea Party leaders last night. When asked if she was part of the "flash mob," she laughed. "I'm here on my own," she said, looking around at the scattered protesters around her. "If this is organized, we suck."

Check out Pelosi's reaction to the protesters. It's priceless:
"Thank you, insurance companies of America."

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