Saturday, March 20, 2010

Health Care Bill--The Oregon Whip Count

March 20, 2010 (9:00 p.m.)

Here's the current status of the Oregon members of the U.S. House of representatives for the Health Care Reform Bill--HR4872:

Oregon 1st     David Wu             DEM   YES
Oregon 2nd    Greg Walden        REP     NO
Oregon 3rd     Earl Blumenauer   DEM   YES
Oregon 4th     Peter DeFazio       DEM   YES
Oregon 5th     Kurt Schrader       DEM   YES

Rep DeFazio took a dramatic stand and paved the way for Oregon's "Yes" votes by helping drive a last second deal to increase Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals.  In states like Oregon and Washington, Medicare pays 30% less for medical procedures and services than in states like New York or Florida.  This has made it very difficult for doctors to accept new Medicare patients and has been responsible for clinics and hospital closures in rural areas.  A number of states have been stuck with unfairly low payments based on a geographic formula in use since the Medicare was enacted in 1966.  The provision to increase payments and put in place new geographic reimbursement guidelines was in the original House bill, but not the Senate bill.   However, thanks to DeFazio it's back in.  You can read more details on the negotiations here:

This is a good and necessary change.  Doctors in Oregon are cheering.  The only person who's not cheering is Representative Walden, a Republican, who is following the straight party line.  He's a strong "No" on health care and has been screaming "unfair" on "deem and pass" until he turned blue in the face.  Well, he's going to get his wish.  It was announced late today there will be a "up and down" vote on the bill.  This means that Nancy Pelosi and the White House are confident they have the votes.  Let's hope that they do. 

It's going to be an interesting next few days.  I believe there are fireworks to come because the Republicans have shifted into an insanely irrational gear.  I wish I could figure out how to explain to my conservative friends that health care is not welfare. They believe health care reform will be the end of democracy as we know it.  For the life of me, I can't figure out why.  This is one of the most pro business, capitalist reforms in history.  There is no rational reason for this fear.  True reform would have been to move to a single payer system, Medicare for everyone, or forcing all the health insurance companies to become not for profit organizations.  That's what needs to happen for true reform.  The Republicans should be cheering. They won and the American people lost.

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