UPDATE: Video Statement of GOP Leader McConnell: "This bill is a legislative trainwreck of historic proportions!"
Late Friday night the Dems paid off Ben Nelson:
Sen. Ben Nelson announces support for health-care bill
By Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery
Saturday, December 19, 2009; 10:55 AM
Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, announced to his caucus Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas.
Democratic leaders spent days trying to hammer out a deal with Nelson, and worked late Friday night with him on abortion coverage language that had proved the major stumbling block. Nelson also secured other favors for his home state.
Under the new abortion provisions, states can opt out of allowing plans to cover abortion in insurance exchanges the bill would set up to serve individuals who don't have employer coverage. Plus, enrollees in plans that do cover abortion procedures would pay for the coverage with separate checks - one for abortion, one for rest of health-care services.
Nelson secured full federal funding for his state to expand Medicaid coverage to all individuals below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay a small portion of the additional cost. He won concessions for qualifying nonprofit insurers and for Medigap providers from a new insurance tax. He also was able to roll back cuts to health savings accounts.
So Nebraska gets full federal funding of expanded Medicaid coverage and the remaining 49 states will be stuck with paying a hugely increased bill.
No One Should Be Surprised
All along I've said that we were likely to reach a point where the public option and some of the other bells and whistles Dems tried to attach to health care "reform" would be tossed away in a saham compromise. That day has come. But what is left are higher taxes, higher insurance costs and a decrease in the quality of care for the majority of Americans.
And Democrats got what they wanted more than the public option: They got vastly expanded federal control over health care. Remember this organizational chart describing the bureaucratic nightmare the House health care bill created? Most of that still exists in the Senate bill and will become law.
Full size version here.
Harry Reid will now introduce what is called the "Managers Amendment" which he has negotiated in secret for several weeks. A PDF copy of the amendment runs to 383 pages. It's an incredibly complex document that attempts to modify existing legislation in both major and minor ways. Unfortunately, Democrats don't want to give the American people, let alone the Senators required to vote on this important legislation the time to read it.
With polls showing that Americans would rather the Senate do nothing than pass this bill, Republicans have been emboldened to demand that the process be slowed down so that Senators have a chance to at least read what they are voting on. They only power they have left to slow things down is to object to the practice of waiving the Senate rule requiring that all new legislation be read. It will be interesting to see whether they demand this amendment be read. Obviously reading a 383 page amendment won't slow things down much.
Senate Republicans Ask for YOUR Help!
Don't sit on the sidelines. Call Senate Democrats and tell them to change their vote to NO! Call Senate Republicans and tell them to stay strong and united against this bill!