Monday, December 21, 2009

Reform Rx: Collins goes to 7-11

An excerpt from Senator Susan Collins’ statement on deciding to vote against health care reform:

It is unfair that Republicans were allowed to offer only seven amendments to a bill that affects every single citizen and one-sixth of our nation's economy.

Unfair? Seven? Of course it depends on what Senator Collins is counting to make her "it is unfair" point I counted twenty-four (24) significant amendments or amending motions with the following eleven (11) offered by Republicans. Collins math lesson: 11 out of 24 = 45%, not bad for having 40% of the seats. By the way, many of us in Maine think that Susan Collin has been unfair to us in regard to fighting for our health care needs.

Here are the seven, I mean eleven Republican offerings (Source Slate):

Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's motion to delay taxes used to pay for the bill until the bill is actually implemented. Set aside Dec. 16, 56-41.

Republican Sen. Mike Crapo's motion to strip the bill of any provisions that will result in a tax increase for individuals earning less than $200,000 or families earning less than $250,000. The obvious point of this amendment was to embarrass President Obama for violating his promise that health care wouldn't impose taxes on this group (which, for the most part, it won't). Failed Dec. 15, 45-54.

Republican Sen. John McCain's motion to send the bill back to the finance committee so it can extend to all Medicare Advantage beneficiaries the special deal Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won for his Florida constituents. Score one for McCain: This amendment shines a spotlight on a cheesy political bargain. Nelson, after trying unsuccessfully in the finance committee to "grandfather" (i.e., maintain for existing beneficiaries) benefit levels for all current Medicare Advantage recipients, got a narrower provision inserted providing relief to Medicare Advantage recipients living in certain "local areas" as determined by a complex formula that fits South Florida like a glove. McCain is in effect saying: Hey pal, share the wealth! Can you blame him? The motion failed Dec. 8, 42-57.

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg's amendment (2942) requiring Medicare savings to be used to "save Medicare." Gregg is the author of a Dec. 1 letter to fellow Republicans offering parliamentary tips on how to obstruct health reform. So don't waste too much attention on this. Failed Dec. 7, 43-56.

Republican Sen. John Ensign's amendment (2927) limiting contingency fees to malpractice lawyers to one-third of any awards of $150,000 or less and one-quarter of any awards of more than $150,000. Not an entirely terrible idea. Failed Dec. 6, 32-66.

Republican Mike Johanns' motion to strip from the health reform bill $42 billion in cuts to home health care agencies. Failed Dec. 5, 41-53.

Republican Sen. John Thune's amendment (2901) removing Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS), a proposed new voluntary program for nursing-home and other long-term care insurance, from the bill. Failed Dec. 4, 51-47. (This amendment required 60 votes to pass.)

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch's motion to strip the bill of cuts to the privately administered Medicare Advantage program. Failed Dec. 4, 41-57.

Republican Sen. John McCain's motion to strip the bill of Medicare cuts. McCain proposed more than twice as many Medicare cuts to fund his own health plan during the 2008 election. McCain is unbelievably touchy about this! His amendment failed Dec. 3, 42-58.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's amendment (2836) barring the U.S. Preventive Task Force from being used to deny coverage for anything. Failed Dec. 3, 41-59.

Republican Sen. David Vitter's amendment (2808) amending Mikulski's amendment (see below) to prevent the United States Preventive Task Force from restricting mammograms, which it can't do anyway. (Vitter is a well-known feminist.) Passed by unanimous consent Dec. 2.

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