Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Quick Note on Deemed Passed

As if things hadn't gotten confusing and contrived enough, a new procedural option is emerging for passing health reform. Since the House doesn't trust the Senate to pass changes to the Senate bill, but the President has to sign the Senate bill before the House and Senate vote on those changes if the Senate uses the reconciliation process we've been talking about (below, ad nauseum), the House has come up with another option: pass the changes to the Senate bill, and that would mean that the underlying Senate bill was "deemed passed" -- passed as if the House had voted for it, even though they won't have done so. Passing health reform without having to take responsibility for voting for it -- interesting.

I don't know how realistic any of this is. It's clear that the Democrats in both the House and the Senate are having trouble coming up with the votes. Abortion is an issue. The public option is an issue. But the procedural mechanism is also a huge issue, and it's clear that the leadership is looking for a way to guarantee the House that the Senate bill will be fixed even if it's passed and signed by the President before any such changes have been enacted into law.

I'm desperate to see some form of health insurance reform pass because there must be an answer to the people who call me every day looking for a pathway to health care. I can't help keep thinking that if any of these members of Congress had to sit in my chair for a day, they'd have no problem getting this thing passed. It shouldn't take this much drama to get this done. After all, there's drama all around us -- an 18 year old who needs a kidney transplant; a woman who can't have the chemotherapy that's most likely to save her life; insurers turning somersaults to try to avoid paying for an expensive but effective treatment for a rare disease called neuromyelitis optica (NMO or Devic's disease), whose victims go blind (among other things).

We shouldn't need a "deemed past" end game. Health reform should be embraced as essential to our humanity. Jennifer

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