This healthcare bill and the cap and trade scheme are the final nails in our nation's coffin. They may not have the votes to pass cap and trade, but it doesn't matter - Obama will still implement the whole thing through EPA regulations. It's over. The only thing left for us is nullification and secession. Do you have food and water? Seeds? Guns and ammo? Get on it. This isn't a joke, this isn't a "theory". Look around you...it's happening NOW and you are running out of time.
- WaPo -
Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, announced to his caucus Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas.
"We're there," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), as he headed into a special meeting to outline the deal.
Democratic leaders spent days trying to hammer out a deal with Nelson, and worked late Friday night with him on abortion coverage language that had proved the major stumbling block. Nelson also secured other favors for his home state.
Under the new abortion provisions, states can opt out of allowing plans to cover abortion in insurance exchanges the bill would set up to serve individuals who don't have employer coverage. Plus, enrollees in plans that do cover abortion procedures would pay for the coverage with separate checks - one for abortion, one for rest of health-care services.
Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.
"I know this is hard for some of my colleagues to accept and I appreciate their right to disagree," Nelson told reporters at the Capitol, of the many changes made at his behest. "But I would not have voted for this bill without these provisions."
With Nelson on board, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid unveiled the final version of a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health insurance system that would expand coverage to an additional 31 million Americans, coming closer to attaining the Democrats' long sought goal of universal medical coverage.
The package closely tracks the $848 billion measure Reid (D-Nev.) drafted this month, before he entered into negotiations aimed at winning the 60 votes he needs to avert a GOP filibuster, aides said. Since then, Reid has made numerous concessions to moderate Democrats, scrapping an effort to create a government-run insurance plan and beefing up prohibitions on spending federal funds for abortion coverage, a change demanded by the final holdout, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Instead of a public option, the final product would allow private firms for the first time to offer national insurance policies to all Americans, outside the jurisdiction of state regulations. Those plans would be negotiated through the Office of Personnel Management, the same agency that handles health coverage for federal workers and members of Congress.
Starting immediately, insurers would be prohibited from denying children coverage for pre-existing conditions. A complete ban on the practice would take effect in 2014, when the legislation seeks to create a network of state-based insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, where people who lack access to affordable coverage through an insurer can purchase policies.
Insurers competing in the exchanges would be required to justify rate increases, and those who jacked up prices unduly could be barred from the exchange. Reid's package also would give patients the right to appeal to an independent board if an insurer denies a medical claim. And all insurance companies would be required to spend at least 80 cents of every dollary they collect in premiums on delivering care to their customers.
Every American would be required to obtain coverage under the proposal, and employers would be required to pay a fine if they failed to offer affordable coverage and their workers sought federal subsidies to purchase insurance in the exchanges. Reid's package would offer additional assistance to the smallest businesses, however, increasing tax credits to purchase coverage by $12 billion over previous versions.
The overall cost of the package was not immediately available, but aides said it would be more than covered by cutting future Medicare spending and raising taxes in the health sector, including a 40 percent excise on the most expensive insurance policies. The package would reduce budget deficits by $130 billion by 2019, aides said, and by as much as $650 billion in the decade thereafter.
Reid officially filed the package early Saturday with plans to hold a first critical vote after midnight Sunday. Barring unexpected delays, Democrats were still hoping to push the package to final passage by Christmas Eve.