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Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
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Frank Bernheisel
Posted 12.20.09
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

Pass the US Health Care Reform Bill

Why is the US health care bill 2000 pages long? Because that is the way we do legislation in the U. S. of A. Specifically, Congress does not choose to enact legislation that lays down principles, guidelines, and criteria. They try to spell things out in detail to make sure that those faceless bureaucrats in Washington to not run amuck and do something rational.

Second, each Congressperson needs to make sure that his/her favorite donor has an exemption or subsidy. Then there is each Congress person's favorite hobby horse that needs to be ridden into the ground. Think Ben Nelson and his insistence that no money that ever passed through the federal government can be used by any woman to have an abortion.

Of course, this is all a matter of a great moral issue and we can all be proud of the Great Ben and his stand for principle. What "pandering for votes," you say? How cynical, just because there is a new clinic opening in Nebraska to perform abortions to replace Dr. George Tiller's clinic.

If you would like to read something new on the health care issue, I would suggest:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/12/14/091214fa_fact_gawande

Opponents to passing a health care bill say we should not rush into this. Well, the House started debating health care this year in January and kicked language around in three different committees.

The House bill had this schedule:

7/14/2009
Introduced in House
10/14/2009
Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
10/14/2009
Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Ways and Means.
10/14/2009
Reported (Amended) by the Committee on Education and Labor.
10/14/2009
Committee on Oversight and Government discharged.
10/14/2009
Committee on The Budget discharged.
10/14/2009
Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 168.
The bill was passed on November 7, 2009.

Meanwhile, the Senate bill had this schedule:

10/19/2009
Introduced in Senate
10/19/2009
Committee on Finance. Original measure reported to Senate by Senator Baucus.
10/19/2009
Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders
Oh, right, that was only one Senate bill.

There was or is the Harkin bill, which had this schedule:

9/17/2009
Introduced in Senate
9/17/2009
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
9/17/2009
Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders.

One should not forget that Senator Baucus started on this in January so our representatives have been at this for nearly a year. These bills were not created from whole cloth. Remember that the Clinton Administration tried to do health care reform and the only change in between was the Drug coverage for Medicare passed during the Bush Administration. Then there was the Truman Administration...

This has been an off and on topic in Congress ever since Germany adopted a universal health insurance in 1883 under Bismarck and seemed to gaining traction the US in 1917, when it was killed because it represented the German or Prussian takeover of American culture.

We could not have that, after all we were at WAR with THEM.

Some tactics never change.

If you would like to read a summary:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:SN01796:@@@D&summ2=m&
or if you prefer the entire bill:
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.1796:

Bottom line: I think the Senate should pass the bill. And then both houses should pass the reconciliation of the House and Senate bills. It would not be what I wanted -- single payer -- but the United States needs to show itself and the world that is has a functioning government that can solve problems.

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