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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Health care reform clears Senate hurdle

Historic legislation to expand U.S. health care and control costs won its first Republican supporter Tuesday and cleared a key Senate hurdle, a double-barreled triumph that propelled President Barack Obama’s signature issue toward votes this fall in both houses of Congress.

“When history calls, history calls,” said Maine Republican Olympia Snowe, whose declaration of support ended weeks of suspense and provided the only drama of a 14-9 vote in the Senate Finance Committee. With her decision, the 62-year-old lawmaker bucked her own leadership on the most high-profile issue of the year in Congress, and gave the drive to remake health care at least a hint of the bipartisanship that Obama seeks.

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Congress divided over how to tax health care

A proposed tax on high-cost, or “Cadillac,” health insurance plans has touched off a fierce clash between the Senate and the House as they wrestle over how to pay for legislation that would provide health benefits to millions of uninsured Americans.

Supporters, including many senators, say that the tax is essential to tamping down medical spending and that over 10 years it would generate more than $200 billion, nearly a fourth of what is needed to pay for the legislation.

Critics, including House members and labor unions, say the tax would quickly spiral out of control and hit middle-class workers, people more closely associated with minivans than Cadillacs.

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Left pissed at Dems over Charlie Rangel

Some of the progressives who helped put Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in power are demanding that they come down hard on House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel and any Senate committee chairmen who stray from the flock on health care reform.

Don’t hold your breath.

While three Democratic insiders say leaders have privately discussed the possibility of ousting Rangel or asking him to step aside, there has been no move to approach the New York Democrat — and aides to Pelosi have made it clear that she won’t do anything about him until the House Ethics Committee finishes its probe.

That doesn’t sit well with Markos Moulitsas and Arianna Huffington, two stars of the liberal blogosphere who’ve joined House Republicans in calling for Rangel’s ouster.

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Health care reform headed for vote

President Barack Obama’s plan to remake the nation’s health care system is about to take its biggest step yet toward becoming reality.

The pivotal Senate Finance Committee was poised to approve sweeping legislation Tuesday requiring nearly all Americans to purchase insurance and ushering in a host of other changes to the nation’s $2.5 trillion medical system.

Much work would lie ahead before a bill could arrive on Obama’s desk, but action by the Finance Committee would mark a significant advance, capping numerous delays as Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., held marathon negotiating sessions — ultimately unsuccessful — aimed at producing a bipartisan bill.

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Health care report may backfire on industry

In the health care reform debate, where playing nice has been the rule, a scathing insurance industry report looked to critics Monday like a grenade aimed at scuttling progress in Congress.

But it also looked to some like too little, too late.

Not only did the report land many months into the debate — with Democrats on the cusp of passing bills through five committees — it infuriated some of the very people the industry group hoped to influence.

“I don’t view the impact of the report as a bill-stopper as much as a bill-changer,” said Robert Blendon, a health policy pollster and political analyst at Harvard University. “The momentum is way too far [in favor of passing a reform bill], and there is a sense out there that something has to be done.”

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