House Health Rundown

I will assume for this blog entry that you weren’t sitting around last night watching The Deuce and its coverage of the health reform debate in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.

So I’ll try to fill in some of the blanks for you.

With four of the committee’s seven Blue Dogs on board, Democrats were able to fend off a series of Republican amendments that sought to do away with the public insurance option and more.

You can see the vote on striking the public option at

Democrats also knocked down an effort to make members of Congress use the public insurance option if it goes into effect, ruling it out of order because the GOP amendment wrongly infringed on the jurisdiction of the House Administration Committee.

You can see a copy of that amendment at

Also defeated was an amendment dealing with Section 102 – the infamous Page 16 that we have discussed on this blog a number of times.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) offered an amendment that would have replaced the language in that section with a simple sentence:

“Nothing in this division shall prevent or limit individuals from keeping their current health benefit plan.”

That was defeated on a 32 to 26 vote, with three Blue Dogs supporting the amendment.

On a 29-28 vote, Democrats narrowly defeated an amendment from Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) that would have required more substantive ID verification for new Medicaid enrollees under the bill.

Deal and other Republicans argued that with millions of people under this plan would be automatically enrolled in Medicaid, without any guarantee that these new people are US citizens or legal residents.

On the issue of abortion, the committee at first provided a victory to Republicans and conservative Democrats, as they joined to approve a plan that would not require coverage of abortions in the health reform bill.

The first vote was a 31-27 victory for the amendment – but Democrats twisted some arms not long before midnight and overturned that, defeating it the second time on a 30-29 tally.

The committee adjourned just before midnight, and returns at 10am for what should be a final day of action.

Approval of the bill will give Democrats something positive on health care reform, unlike over in the Senate Finance Committee, where no bill will be produced by that panel until after Labor Day.