Obama Order On Abortion Locks In Health Care Votes

President Barack Obama and House Democratic leaders struck a last-minute deal Sunday with abortion foes to secure the final few votes needed to remake America's health care system, writing a climactic chapter in a century-old quest for near universal coverage.

The House argued its way through a thicket of Republican objections toward an evening vote on the bill to extend coverage to 32 million Americans who lack it, ban insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade.

A shouting band of protesters outside the Capitol dramatized their opposition, and one man stood up in the House visitor's gallery shouting, "Kill the bill" before he was ushered out — evidence of the passions the yearlong debate over health care has stirred.

Passage of a central health care bill already cleared by the Senate would send it to Obama for his signature. That still would leave one more step, a companion package of changes would go to the Senate.

Obama lobbied by phone from the White House, then took the crucial step of issuing an executive order that satisfied a small group of Democrats who demanded that no federal funds be used for elective abortions. "We're well past 216" votes, a majority, said Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, swinging behind the bill after leading the holdouts in a rebellion that had left the outcome in doubt.

Democratic aides confirmed his vote count.

After more than a year of political combat — certain to persist into the fall election campaign for control of Congress — debate on the House floor fell along predictable lines.

"The public has been grievously and purposely lied to," by Republicans in their efforts to defeat the legislation, said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., a clear reference to GOP accusations that included the claim that there would be death panels for elderly patients.

Republicans opposed the measure as a takeover of government health care that would cut Medicare and raise taxes by nearly $1 trillion combined. Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., criticized the Democrats for their tactics on the House floor, but said, "the greatest outrage has always been for the bill itself."

Over and over, Democrats stressed the historic nature of the day.

"Health care isn't only a civil right, it's a moral issue," said Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I. He said his late father, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., had worked his entire career for nationwide health care, and President John F. Kennedy before him.

Slaughter, read a message President Franklin Roosevelt sent Congress in 1939 urging lawmakers to address the needs of those without health care, and said Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Richard Nixon had also sought to broaden health insurance coverage.

Obama has said often that presidents of both parties have tried without success to achieve national health insurance, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.

The 44th president's quest to succeed where others have failed seemed at a dead end two months ago, when Republicans won a special election for a Massachusetts Senate seat, and with it, the votes to prevent a final vote.

But the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., soon came up with a rescue plan that required the House to approve the Senate-passed measure despite opposition to many of its provisions, then have both houses pass a fix-it measure incorporating numerous changes.

Under the order of the day, set down by Democrats, the House was voting first on the Senate-passed bill, sending it to Obama for his signature. A final vote on the fix-it bill would follow. Its passage would set up a final showdown in the Senate, where Reid says the votes are in hand for its final approval.

Under the legislation, most Americans would be required to purchase insurance, and face penalties if they refused. Much of the money in the bill would be devoted to subsidies to help families at incomes of up to $88,000 a year pay their premiums.

The legislation would also usher in a significant expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor. Coverage would be required for incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, $29,327 a year for a family of four. Childless adults would be covered for the first time, starting in 2014.

The insurance industry would come under new federal regulation. They would be forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions and from canceling policies when a policyholder becomes ill.

Parents would be able to keep older kids on their coverage up to age 26. A new high-risk pool would offer coverage to uninsured people with medical problems until 2014, when the coverage expansion goes into high gear.

Once enacted, the two bills would create a series of so-called "insurance exchanges" beginning in 2014 where consumers could shop for individual coverage that meets federal standards.

To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade, roughly half of it from a new Medicare payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000. A new excise tax on high-cost insurance policies was significantly scaled back in deference to complaints from organized labor.

In addition, the bills cut more than $500 billion from planned payments to hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other providers that treat Medicare patients. An estimated $200 billion would reduce planned subsidies to insurance companies that offer a private alternative to traditional Medicare.

The insurance industry warned that seniors would face sharply higher premiums as a result, and the Congressional Budget Office said many would return to traditional Medicare as a result.

The subsidies are higher than those for seniors on traditional Medicare, a difference that critics complain is wasteful, but insurance industry officials argue goes into expanded benefits.

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  • by US citizen for now Location: Washington on Mar 22, 2010 at 10:09 AM
    Jim, you're right and Kruschev being a proclaimed communist knew this was coming from the plans from his globalist colleagues Bilderberg group which aligns with the goals from the international Freemasons. Bilderberg group founded in 1954 by super wealthy & powerful elite who want to rule the world and it's financial markets. Remove all borders, constitutions, human rights as we know them and replace with their socialist versions. Obama is loved by the Bilderberg group and hails him as their New World Order man bringing their visions into reality right here in the good old USA. Get ready to eventually be a "World citizen". If you think I'm crazy and these are empty words I'm speaking up here you have another thing coming. This is real folks whether you like it or not. See how Obama, Pelosi and the others who welcome socialism and how they're trashing our constitution breaking laws before our eyes. This is just the beginning of the end. Look up for Jesus is returning very soon.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Mar 22, 2010 at 09:55 AM
    Well, there are several states that will sue congress for violating the constitution, if this is signed into law. If the supreme court rules it so, I hope this means Obama will be impeached for not upholding the constitution, just like congress. You took an oath...bribery......seems to be Obamas SOP...their done with this bill, the Americans are done with democrats.
  • by Frances Location: Morehead on Mar 22, 2010 at 08:41 AM
    Somewhere I read that we must defend our Constitution from foreign and domestic enemies. Thank goodness for the dozen or so states who will stand up in court and fight these domestic enemies in Washington .
  • by anon Location: wallace on Mar 22, 2010 at 08:20 AM
    the law states"" NO PRESIDENTIAL EXCECUTIVE ORDER can overide legislation. this was just a ploy to keep federal monies for abortion AND TO HAVE SECURED VOTES. he is feeding everyone the FOOL-AID!!!
  • by Kimo Location: Belhaven on Mar 22, 2010 at 06:04 AM
    Do you suppose the anointed one really believes that an Executive Order overrides a law?? Or maybe he was simply able to convince Cong. Stupak that it did. And BTW, the house didn't argue its way through anything. The Dems spent their time giving people rides on AF-1 and showing them how effective Chicago style motivation can be. There is no way that anyone who had their brain engaged during this entire exercise could possibly support the travesty that your community Organizer has foisted of on us. When we voted for change, a lot of us thought we were going to get more honesty and openness from our government - not less!!!
  • by Mike Jones Location: Greenville on Mar 22, 2010 at 04:26 AM
    A sad day for the United States. We're screwed now...
  • by Mike Location: Edenton on Mar 22, 2010 at 03:33 AM
    Keep this in mind... An executive order can be canceled without a vote from ANYONE. I took an oath once to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. Those domestic enemies reside in the Congress and the White House today!!!
  • by Jim Location: Beaufort on Mar 22, 2010 at 01:36 AM
    Kruschev, you were right. You have destroyed the US without firing a shot, just like you told JFK you would do.
  • by Audra Location: SoCal on Mar 21, 2010 at 09:39 PM
    I can't say what I really want to because WITN would never release the post, I'm so furious. Being that I have a seriously ailing grandmother of 92 in a care center, cutting her benefits is a good way to get on my bad side right now. Beyond that, I've found this whole idea of requiring ins. for everyone beyond offensive from day 1! It's like utilities that charge you more for turning your svc back on if you get disconnected. If you HAD the ^%$#! money in the first place... DUH? For driving it makes sense - driving isn't a requirement, after all. Just by living here though, now we'll have to cover ourselves like a car??? Idk wth is wrong with this idiot that he can't hear the ppl he is supposed to be of service & assistance to - that IS the President's role... because truly leading is only done with the willing & satisfied. I'm not, & neither is the majority out there. My vote for the worst thing to every happen to this country goes to Oblabbermouth, lying sack.
  • by obamablows Location: gvegas on Mar 21, 2010 at 07:21 PM
    obama takes over the auto industry. obama takes over healthcare. obama takes over the banks. sounds like obama wants to make the us like the soviet union to me.
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