Thursday, July 2, 2009

Party Unity

At least in the Senate HELP committee.

The HELP Committee has released their final version of a health care bill, including a public health insurance option and a provision for shared responsibility:

Democrats on a key Senate Committee outlined a revised and far less costly health care plan Wednesday night that includes a government-run insurance option and an annual fee on employers who do not offer coverage to their workers.The plan carries a 10-year price tag of slightly over $600 billion, and would lead toward an estimated 97 percent of all Americans having coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office, Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and Chris Dodd said in a letter to other members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The AP obtained a copy.

By contrast, an earlier, incomplete proposal carried a price tag of roughly $1 trillion and would have left millions uninsured, CBO analysts said in mid-June.

You got that cost number right - $611 billion. If you'll remember, the last version of the HELP bill - without a public option or shared responsibility - came in at $1 trillion. Clearly, these changes saved money. (And remember when John Boehner, Republican leader in the House, said the public option would cost over $1 trillion? He's dead wrong.)

On the conference call announcing the measure, Senators Dodd, Brown, and Whitehouse said that all 13 HELP Democrats would be voting for this bill. That's right, every single one

This is a HUGE deal. I know there are some who aren't all that impressed with this bill but it has a public option in it and it shows that it saves money. It may not be perfect but it is a hell of a lot better than what we have right now.

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