Senate Passes Health Care Bill

Early this morning the Senate voted to approve the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with the ambitious goal of insuring an additional 30 million Americans. This vote comes after weeks of grueling debate during which many votes were taken, often to satisfy the Senate’s strict rules.

When Senator Harry Reid cast his vote, he accidentally said “nay” instead of “aye,” but then threw up the Mason sign begging for forgiveness and changed his vote. The entire chamber busted out laughing.

The House of Representatives already passed a comprehensive health care reform bill, meaning that Health care reform is closer to becoming law than it ever has been before.

However, one of the most the most difficult hurdles is still to come. There are significant differences between the bills produced by the House and Senate which must be reconciled. Unsurprisingly, there are members of both chambers who oppose the provisions passed by the opposite chamber.

Universal health care has been nearly a century in the making, and we (and by “we” I mean “I”) here at PoliticLOLz would like to take you back through a humorous history of health care reform in America. And if you’d prefer to just skip down to the more recent stuff, click here.

Efforts to achieve universal coverage began with Theodore Roosevelt, who had the support of progressive health care reformers in the 1912 election but was defeated.

Harry Truman

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President Harry Truman called for universal health care as a part of his Fair Deal in 1949 but he didn’t have enough friends in Washington to get the job done.

In 1965, LBJ signed this little thing called Medicare into law.

The COBRA Act of 1985 gave some employees the ability to continue health insurance coverage at ridiculously high rates after leaving employment.

Health care reform was a major concern of the Clinton administration headed by

Hillary Clinton

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First Lady Hillary Clinton. (Ed. note: We’re not sure if she headed the entire Clinton administration or just the health care reform efforts.) However, the 1993 Clinton health care plan was not enacted into law.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA1)

made it easier for workers to keep health insurance coverage when they change jobs or lose a job, and also made use of national data standards for tracking, reporting and protecting personal health information, setting the stage for Big Brother to come along and use your health data against you.

During the 2004 presidential election both George W. Bush and John Kerry offered health care proposals, and as president, Bush signed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act which included a prescription drug plan for elderly and disabled Americans.

In the 2008 Presidential Election, both of the major party presidential candidates offered positions on health care.

John McCain‘s proposals focused on open-market competition rather than government funding. McCain trusted market forces with health care, because they had done such a good job of insuring everyone so far.

In his campaign, Barack Obama called for universal health care but is now settling for whatever he can get.

Health care reform has been a prominent debate during 2009.

Earlier this year the Senate Finance Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Max Baucus, produced a quality piece of legislation that failed to include a public insurance option but still cost $856 billion.

The House of Representatives was the first chamber to actually produce a bill, successfully passing the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) on November 7.

Senator Ben Nelson

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Since then, the two biggest players in the Senate debate have been Harry Reid and Ben Nelson, both Democrats. Harry Reid is the Senate Majority Leader, the top man in the whole Senate. Ben Nelson is a relatively junior Senator from Nebraska who keeps threatening to take his ball and go home if he doesn’t get his way. And of course, the Democrats need all 60 of their side’s votes.

Okay, here’s where it gets hairy, feel free to skip this next paragraph…

On November 21, the Senate invoked cloture on the motion to proceed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and then on December 21, they invoked cloture on the manager’s amendment which contains some compromise agreements. On Tuesday, December 23rd, they passed the manager’s amendment and then invoked cloture on the original Reid substitute amendment. On Wednesday, December 24, they voted on the Ensign Constitutional Point of Order (violation of enumerated powers in Article I and the 5th Amendment) (majority vote – failed), the Baucus Motion to Waive Budget Act (Corker point of order with respect to unfunded mandates) (majority vote – passed), Baucus Motion to Table Cornyn Appeal of the Ruling of the Chair with respect to Rule 44 (disclosure of congressionally directed spending) on the Reid-Baucus-Dodd-Harkin substitute amendment (majority vote – passed), Hutchison Constitutional Point of Order (Reid amendment #2786 violates the Tenth Amendment) (majority vote – failed), Motion to table the DeMint Motion to suspend the Rules for the purpose of proposing and considering DeMint amendment #3297 (majority vote – passed) adoption of the Reid-Baucus-Dodd-Harkin substitute amendment (majority vote – passed), and cloture on the underlying bill, HR3590, as amended (60 vote threshold – passed).

Of course, no normal person has any frickin’ clue what that means, but basically, the Senate had to do a bunch more political stuff that’s kinda similar to an elementary school playground fight, and then they voted to approve the bill on Christmas Eve.

Once the Senate passes their bill, the House and Senate bills will go to conference to reconcile the differences, and then the Senate and House will have to vote on the new unified bill before it goes to the President. Once again, there’s a good chance that either Ben Nelson or his House counterpart Bart Stupak will take their ball and go home.

I hope you have enjoyed this legislative history of the 2009 health care reform debate. Much of this history was adapted from this article. This piece is licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license, which means that you are welcome to use this piece however you would like, so long as you cite the original author and link to PoliticLOLz (or site if it is being used in a non-linkable medium).

1I can’t be the only one that thinks of “hippo” every time I hear this, can I?

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