Right along party lines as expected, with Jim Bunning not voting. What’s interesting is that since the GOP started praying for Democratic members of the Senate to not show up, a Republican has missed every vote. Irony or sweet revenge?
This ends the 2009 legislative year and now we are on to reconciliation to fix the health care bill. I actually have a little bit of hope of some good coming out of there, given statements some House members are starting to make. This bill is far from perfect, but we now have a real chance to make it better. It’s a much more real chance than the “fix it later” mentality. We won’t get things like a public option out of conference, but if a few things could happen like dropping/greatly reducing the mandate for lower income people, then it’s a bill I could stomach. I’ve said all along that the mandates was the deal breaker for me because of the adverse affect they actually will have on lower income people, namely those who make just enough to not get Medicaid.
I will admit that the bill does a lot to reduce costs for families, but most are focusing on the more median income families. In our uncertain economic times with a very weak job market, forcing people below 175% of the federal poverty level to buy insurance is adding to an already disastrous situation. It also shows the disconnect between Washington and the lower income people. They don’t know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck. They are operating on the assumption that people in this situation don’t get insurance out of greed. For most it is out of a very, very tough decision on what expenses can be cut in order to survive. Health insurance means nothing if you are homeless or can’t afford to eat, and the extra $1,100-$5,000 a year these people will now be forced to pay is going to be felt hard.
To keep it in context, here is the chart from the CBO that many have been using to calculate health care costs under the new legislation: