Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


Pelosi Outlines Health Care Bill, Pushes for Vote

By Edward Epstein, CQ Staff

March 12, 2010 -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi has outlined provisions of a health care "corrections" bill that she hopes the House will pass next week, setting the stage for final congressional action on Democrats' health overhaul.

Pelosi said Friday that the measure — drafted to make changes to the Senate-passed health bill (HR 3590) — will do away with controversial provisions such as the "Cornhusker kickback," which would have given only Nebraska financial relief on Medicaid costs.

It also will speed up the closing of a gap in Medicare's prescription drug benefit, she said. Medicare stops contributing to the cost of seniors' medicines after they have spent $2,830 a year, and does not resume cost-sharing until expenditures hit $4,550.

The new bill, to be considered under budget reconciliation rules, would limit the so-called tax on "Cadillac health care plans" in ways Pelosi did not specify and instead raise another tax she did not identify.

Labor unions, a key Democratic constituency, had bitterly opposed the new tax on health care policies since their members tend to have the most generous employer-paid insurance coverage.

The changes to the Senate bill largely follow the outline issued by President Obama on Feb. 22 as he encouraged Congress to finish work on the stalled health overhaul. On Friday, the White House increased pressure on Congress to act quickly by announcing that Obama will delay his scheduled departure for a trip to Indonesia and Australia from March 18 to March 21.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., told members Friday to be prepared for votes next weekend.

To finish its work on health care legislation, the House must pass the Senate bill as well as the new measure, which is intended to address concerns of various blocs of House members.

House Democrats plan to take the package to the Budget Committee on Monday, a step required under House procedures. The Rules Committee could receive the bill as early as March 17, which would clear the way for a House vote as early as March 18.

Liberal groups are lobbying Congress to include a public insurance option in the final package. It's an idea long championed by Pelosi. It was included when the House passed its health bill (HR 3962) last November but didn't make it into the Senate bill.

That measure needed 60 votes for passage, but the "corrections" bill will be considered under different circumstances. Budget reconciliation rules require only a simple majority for passage, so supporters of a public option see an opportunity to put such a provision in the corrections bill.

Pelosi said it won't happen because the proposal does not appear to have the necessary support in the Senate, even though it would need 50 votes instead of 60 this time.

"I'm quite sad the public option isn't in there," she said. "It isn't in there because they don't have the votes to have it in there or they would have had in there."

"What we will have in the reconciliation is package is something that's been agree upon, House and Senate, that we can pass. I'm not having the Senate, which didn't have a public option, put that on the House.

On the House floor Friday, GOP Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., pressed Hoyer for a commitment that the reconciliation bill will be available to members and on-line for at least 72 hours before the House votes.

Hoyer wouldn't be that specific. "We hope to have as much notice of that piece of legislation as possible," he said.

But he noted that the Senate bill, which will remain largely unchanged, has been available since December.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., charged that Democrats were "twisting themselves into pretzels" trying to pass a health care overhaul that, he said, is unpopular with the public.

"What we have here is Democrats versus their own constituents," McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters during a Friday conference call.

Asked if Democrat would be able to complete work on comprehensive health care legislation before Congress takes a two-week break beginning March 26, McConnell responded, "No one knows."

"We're waiting to see if House Democrats are willing to stiff the public and pass this bill," McConnell added.

Publication Details