And you thought only Santa worked on Christmas Eve, huh?
Well, the Senate worked today, too, and took its first Christmas Eve vote since 1895.
Of course, there are some folks who wished the Senate had stayed home today to do some last-minute Christmas shopping. They would be the Republicans and the insurance companies. They’re sipping their egg nog right now through Bah Humbug grimaces on their sour pusses. Meanwhile, the Democrats are gulping champagne through their aurora borealis smiles.
As you may have heard by now, Senate Democrats passed a landmark health care bill in a crucial Christmas Eve vote that may define Barack Obama’s presidential legacy and usher in near-universal medical coverage for the first time in the country’s history.
The 60-39 vote had 58 Democrats and two independents voting “yea” while Republicans unanimously voted “nay.”
The vote came after progressives and conservatives went hammer and tong over it for months … after awhile all the rhetoric began to sound like they all were debating Larry, Moe and Curly in Latin. The scrimmaging was considerably more intense than a touch football game between Red Roof Inn desk clerks and Denny’s fry cooks.
Granted, the Senate’s bill must still be merged with legislation passed by the House before Obama can sign a final bill in the new year. There are significant differences between the two measures but Democrats say they’ve come too far now to fail. You just know that while they’re still standing in a woodpile of details, they’ll keep hacking and chopping away like lumberjacks on speed.
Both bills would extend health insurance to more than 30 million more Americans. And since one tiny sniffle can turn into a wheeze and a person’s universe suddenly is left in ashes and ruin, health care is a bit more important than that ugly tie Aunt Edna gave you for Christmas.
Insurance companies think this bill was obviously wired together in hell by some subcommittee that was giggling cruelly as it went about its work.
The legislation would ban the insurance industry from denying benefits or charging higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the bill will reduce deficits by $130 billion over the next 10 years, an estimate that assumes lawmakers carry through on hundreds of billions of dollars in planned cuts to insurance companies and doctors, hospitals and others who treat Medicare patients.
For the first time, the government would require nearly every American to carry insurance, and subsidies would be provided to help low-income people to do so. Employers would be induced to cover their employees through a combination of tax credits and penalties. The legislation costs nearly $1 trillion over 10 years and is paid for by a combination of taxes, fees and cuts to Medicare.
Republicans are going bonkers because they fear that a government takeover of health care will increase premiums for families and small businesses, raise taxes during a recession, cut seniors’ Medicare benefits, add to our skyrocketing debt and put bureaucrats in charge of decisions that should be made by patients and doctors.
The pros and cons of this are enough to make you sick.
The bottom line is that staying healthy sometimes is more about staying wealthy.