Healthcare Open Thread

TPM—One Premium, Two Checks: How Abortion Will Be Paid For Under The Nelson Compromise:
In the House health care bill, consumers who receive federal premium subsidies would be forbidden from buying any insurance policy that covers abortion. That provision--the so-called Stupak amendment--threatened to blow up health care reform. Originally, it's the language Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) wanted to see in the Senate health care bill. In the end, he didn't get that.

But what he did get might still draw the ire of pro-choice activists and legislators. According to a senior Senate leadership aide, under the Nelson compromise, "[i]ndividuals receiving subsidies will have one premium that they pay with two distinct transactions."

Put another way: If you're buying insurance with help from the government, and the policy you want to buy covers abortions, you have to write two checks (or authorize two credit card transactions, etc.) for your plan. If the plan costs $1000 a month, and the insurer plans to sequester $50 to put into a pool that covers abortions, you have to make one payment of $950 and a separate payment of $50.
ReasonBen Nelson Gets a Basket of Goodies: "After a week of legislative high drama, it turns out what Sen. Ben Nelson really wanted was... a basket of goodies for his home state of Nebraska. Nelson, the most determined of the Democratic holdouts on health care reform, announced this morning that he will vote for cloture on the bill, shutting down debate so that the Senate can hold an up or down vote on passage. But he only did so after securing handouts for his home state of Nebraska."

ABC—President Obama Hails Senate Health Care Bill as Ben Nelson Jumps on Board: "Senate Democratic leaders inched closer to attaining their goal of passing a health care bill by Christmas as Ben Nelson, the Nebraska senator who had been skeptical of the bill, jumped on board, winning major concessions for his state, and the Congressional Budget Office released an optimistic cost estimate of the legislation. ... President Obama today hailed the legislation as "the largest deficit reduction plan in a decade," and praised the changes for making the health care bill stronger."

New York TimesHealth Bill Passes Key Test in the Senate With 60 Votes: "After a long day of acid, partisan debate, Senate Democrats held ranks early Monday in a dead-of-night procedural vote that proved they had locked in the decisive margin needed to pass a far-reaching overhaul of the nation's health care system. The roll was called shortly after 1 a.m., with Washington still snowbound after a weekend blizzard, and the Senate voted on party lines to cut off a Republican filibuster."

New York TimesSenate Debate on Health Care Exacerbates Partisanship: "In the heart of the holiday season, Senate Republicans and Democrats are at one another's throats as the health care overhaul reaches its climactic votes. A year that began with hopes of new post-partisanship has indeed produced change: Things have gotten worse."

Paul Krugman—A Dangerous Dysfunction: "Unless some legislator pulls off a last-minute double-cross, health care reform will pass the Senate this week. Count me among those who consider this an awesome achievement. It's a seriously flawed bill, we'll spend years if not decades fixing it, but it's nonetheless a huge step forward. It was, however, a close-run thing. And the fact that it was such a close thing shows that the Senate — and, therefore, the U.S. government as a whole — has become ominously dysfunctional."

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