Live Blog House Rules Committee – Health Care Reform
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The rules committee will meet today at 2pm to discuss the House health care reform bill HR 3962. It will aired be live on C-SPAN 2.
2:06 – Rep. Charles Rangel begins by reading on opening statement in support of the reform plan.
2:10 – Rep. George Miller is next to read his opening statement in support of reform. He list many of the improvements that would be made by HR 3962.
2:16 – Rep. Dave Camp (R-Michigan) ranking member of Ways and Means slams the bill in his opening statement. Claiming it would hurt Medicare and increase debt. Calls it tax increase and claims it would cover illegal immigrants. He ask that the Republican alternative be offered. Claims that what the American people wants is not the Democratic bill but the Republican alternative.
2:21 – Rep John Kline (R-Minn) calls the bill a vast expansion of government and creates many new bureaucracy. It points to the many powers of the new exchange Commissioner. He lists each page where the Commissioner is given a job.
2:24 – Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) starts off by point out that the unemployment rate just reached 10%. Barton is upset the bill is long. If page count is an issue we just need to switch to smaller margins on future bills. Barton is disappoint that 8 Republican amendments accepted in his Energy and Commerce committee were dropped from the final merged bill. Barton asks for more than normal time for debate.
2:31 – Chairman Lousie Slaughter and Dave Camp have a back and forth about what Republicans have ever down to reform health care.
2:34 – She grills Camp about the Republican bill and how little the bill would do. Slaughter points out how much more money the Democratic bill would reduce the deficit in the long run.
2:36 – Rangel expresses disappointed that there has been a lack of bipartisan work on health care and the lack of a Republican “alternative” until the very last minute.
2:37 – Waxman is not at the meeting to testify. No reason is given to explain why Waxman is missing. Instead Frank Pallone is speaking in his place. He delivers an opening statement in support of reform and the importance of the new consumer protections for the insured.
2:40 – Slaughter tells a story about a young man who used up his lifetime cap and quickly became uninsured. Pallone thanks Slaughter for her work on genetic non-discrimination in health care.
2:44 – Pallone points out that most of the potential savings have not been scored by the CBO but some reforms could end up saving trillions.
2:46 – Slaughter does not know what time the bill will be put on the floor tomorrow. Instead of leaving the three committee chairs and ranking member stay to talk about HR 3961, the Doc fix to the SGR.
2:48 – Rangel delivers his opening statement in support of 3961 and ending the need for a yearly short term fix to the SGR.
2:50 – Camp says the SGR needs to be fixed but it should be paid for. To this Slaughter responds by slamming the Republican Medicare act of 2003 which is responsible for a huge amount of our debt. Not a dime of that was paid for.
2:52 – Pallone defends the SGR and say it is just accepting the reality that SGR will always be patched and never go into effect.
2:55 – Barton agrees we need to fix the SGR. He says it should be index to medical inflation but it needs to be paid for.
2:57 – Ranking Member David Dreier points out this is the “only hearing” on the bill. A silly technically distinction. The bill is built from HR 3200 which has had many hearings in three different committees. He claims Pelosi is breaking her 72 hour rule because a slight change might be made to the manager’s amendment. He says the American people don’t want this bill. He is very offended that Slaughter claims Republicans have done nothing to reform health care. Dreier makes an absurd argument that the White House failed to acknowledge that there was a Republican plans for reform even though there has not been a Republican bill until a few days ago.
3:03 – Dreier spend a lot of time talking about how great it is there is TV cameras in the Committee meeting. It is indeed a good thing. Slaughter and Dreier get into an argument about cameras in the rules committee.
3:10 – The Republicans are making a fuss that the Doc fix did not get separate hearings as a stand alone bill. It was part of the bill that was debated for months, it is just that the bill has now been split into two bills.
3:12 – Dreier and Slaughter go back and forward about repealing a legislative trigger about Medicare spending that produces a report.
3:15 – Jim McGovern (D) claims that this process has been very transparent with many hearings. He compares it to the lack of hearings for Medicare Part D and how that bill was not paid for.
3:18 – Dreier claims his bill would address pre-existing conditions, McGovern said the Republican bill will not and does not expand coverage. McGovern calls it a historic moment. “We can’t let this opportunity pass.”
3:23 – Virginia Foxx (R) is claiming that twice as many people on Medicaid use the emergency room as the uninsured so expanding Medicaid is bad. McGovern thanks Foxx for making the Republican case that there should be more uninsured.
3:26 – Pallone claims the bill would fix this problem by increase Medicaid payment rates to primary care providers. So Medicaid patients would go to primary care doctors instead of hospital.
3:28 – The meeting breaks for series of floor votes.