Tales from the Trail

Will Obama get a Senate Christmas gift?

December 11, 2009

Senate Democrats are confident they will pass a sweeping healthcare overhaul and give President Barack Obama a significant victory on one of his top domestic priorities. But will they do it by Christmas? OBAMA/

It will be hard. Right now the bill is hung up over a Democratic amendment that would allow patients and pharmacies to import cheaper prescription drugs from other countries, including Canada. Democrats are also waiting for an official cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office on a proposed compromise that would drop the government-run public option from the bill.

The compromise would call on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to contract with insurance companies to provide non-profit health plans that would be offered on proposed new insurance exchanges. The compromise would also allow people 55 to 64 to buy into the Medicare health program for the elderly.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid would have to begin the process for a final series of  procedural votes by the end of next week if senators have any hope of passing the bill by Christmas. That is a tall order.

Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy has already given up the idea of spending Christmas in Vermont.  He’s having his tree shipped to Washington where he says he’ll be spending the holiday.

The Senate also has to pass a major spending bill and increase the debt limit so the government can continue to borrow and make interest payments.

The Senate will be holding a rare weekend session, the second in a row, to vote on a spending bill that will fund much of the government through September.

The Senate is expected to resume debate on the healthcare overhaul on Monday. But it could temporarily set aside the bill again to vote on a must-pass defense spending bill. That bill is also likely to include the debt limit increase and money to extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

It looks like senators will be passing more than the egg nog for Christmas!

Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama greeted by Santa at tree lighting ceremony)

Comments
5 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Don’t be fooled. Putting people on Medicare is a “public option”. And a public option that is in a financial mess.

Not only that, this is all about Obama. Hmmm….it’s never about the American people who don’t want anything to do with this mess. 54 percent are opposed. Also, 80 percent of the people who have their own health insurance are happy with it and don’t want to change…thank you very much.

As for the debt ceiling. Oh my goodness. It is going to be bad when the government is forced to deal with the debt. Inflation is going to go to levels no one has seen before. It is destroying the dollar and we are going to be the ones who suffer. This isn’t a matter of if, it is a matter of when….and it will be bad. Hope everyone has paid their debt off, because they will need every cent they have just to survive day to day.

Oh well, here is more fodder for my liberal friends….

Posted by TyC | Report as abusive
 

Health care in the U.S. is very expensive. The number of uninsured drives that cost up when thy visit the emergency room instead of a doctors office. All of this aside, the debate has focused on the public option. We spend twice as much per person for health care than any where else in the world. Yet 48 million of our people go uninsured. Our life expectancy, infant mortality,and morbidity, are worse than all industrialized nations and some developing nations. There is however a more important factor in controlling health care costs.

As a nation we have more obese people than any where else in world. At the same time the number of children in America who don’t get enough to eat has doubled in the past year. Both of these conditions exacerbate existing health problems and in many cases are the cause. Among children the consequences of poor nutrition have life long effects. The high cost of health care is only one of many consequences of over all poor nutrition to our society.

If we are to change health care then it should be done so to improve the health of the people. The saddest thing of all is that the Obama administration has stopped work on the problem of nutrition in America. Wait until next year we are told. The efforts of his staff have been applied to producing health care legislation. The problem of hunger is not one of his priorities. I find it hard to believe our President or Congress doesn’t see the connection between poor nutrition and poor health.

In Europe and the U.K. physicians and patients are given compensation or incentives for the number of patients that lose weight, stop or reduce smoking, stop or reduce alcohol consumption, eat nutritious foods instead of junk,….etc. Certainly we should be able to look at what other nations do that improves the health of their people. Some of those ideas might work for us as well? It is unfortunate that this whole topic is missing from the health care debate. Until the issue of malnutrition is addressed, I am doubtful any new health care legislation will improve the health of this nation.

Posted by eddieblack | Report as abusive
 

It’s a shame the public option has been put on the chopping block. We enjoy fire protection, police protection, and military protection and all are publicly run services. Health care is at the core of a productive fulfilling life. It should be publicly available and not made into a commodity.

Private health care is a bad joke. It can’t do the job which is why we have a push now. But people still think that insurance companies can do better than they have in the past. They still believe that insurance companies care about them. How foolish.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive
 

We enjoy fire protection, police protection and military protection. But never for free. We pay taxes in order to get those services.

Healthcare is very expensive. It involves equipment, paperwork, employees, medicine and many other costly little things. Sooner or later the money has to come from somewhere.

In fact, one could say that if healthcare was intended to be free, it wouldn’t be so expensive.

So if you want universal healthcare, expect much higher taxes to cover the cost of care and piles of paperwork. Hopefully Obama has factored all of that into his reforms.

Posted by defcon86 | Report as abusive
 

Defcon86

Health care is an area where money must not be a deciding factor. It’s not that difficult to understand that life and good health are far superior in value to the money used to pay providers. Healthy people contribute to the overall health and prosperity of society as a whole.

Cutting universal health care out because of short term upfront costs is ridiculous when you consider that we spend all kinds of money for war, and for saving banks.

Human life is more important than war or the banking industry and yet the argument of cost is used as a reason not to provide for an improvement in the quality of that life. If we stopped our war, and stopped giving bonus money to bankers, we would have more than enough to implement a single payer system. It’s a matter of priorities. Human life is a greater priority than money.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive
 

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