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US House barely passes watered-down Health Care Reform Bill

November 9, 2009

On Saturday, the US House of Representatives passed what is being hailed in the commercial news media as an “historic health care reform bill.” The measure barely passed with a 220-215, a vote, which included all Democrats and one Republican voting for the bill. West Michigan members of Congress, Vern Ehlers and Pete Hoekstra, both voted against the bill.


The closeness of the vote demonstrated the volatility of the issue, despite the fact that what ended up being passed was ultimately not a very progressive bill. The so-called “Public Option” was watered down in such a way as to not challenge the power of the medical establishment, including health care insurance companies. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, one of the Democrats who voted against the hill, echoes this critique in a statement he gave that said:

“We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care.  We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are.  But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit.  That is our system.”

One reason the House version passed is because of the provisions that further prevent women’s reproductive rights. The growing number of Pro-Life Democrats embraced the language in the bill, which would further erode reproductive choice. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, co-chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus, who also voted against the bill, had this to say:

“This health reform bill is about improving access to care, not further restricting a woman’s right to choose. Our bill is about lowering health care costs for millions of women and their families, not further marginalizing women by forcing them to pay more for their care. This amendment is a back door way of overturning Roe v. Wade; it is a disservice and insult to millions of women throughout our country. I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.”

As has been noted the bill (H.R. 3962 Affordable Health Care for America Act) is rather lengthy and since the commercial media has done such a poor job of providing any clear analysis of the content of the bill, most Americans are left to support partisan groups which have been endorsing or criticizing the health care legislation.

Despite the bill passing in the House it must now go before the Senate and some critics have pointed out that the conservative Democrats, also known as Blue Dog Democrats, are even less sympathetic to real reform. This conservative stance on health care is reflected in how much money these Senate Democrats have received from the health care industry.

In the days before the Senate voted we plan to continue to provide some analysis and independent reporting on the fate of the health care legislation.

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