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The end game on health reform

Ken Jacobs, chair, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education | March 3, 2010

Health reform is reaching an end game.  Obama came out strong in his speech today for the first time drawing sharp distinctions between the two parties views on health care reform, and calling for an “up or down vote” on the bill.

Obama’s proposals last week addressed the main remaining issues between the House and the Senate: improving subsidies for low-income families, increasing the federal match for the Medicaid expansion, closing the Medicare donut hole, and raising the threshold and extending the grace period on the excise tax on high cost health plans.

The game plan is for the House to pass the Senate bill by March 19 and send it to the President’s desk. In the subsequent days they would pass a reconciliation package and send it to the Senate. The Senate would pass the bill prior to the Spring recess.

The Republicans are crying foul over the use of reconciliation. They don’t have much of a case.  Many of them have voted for much larger reconciliation bills in the past under President Bush. As Jonathan Cohn helpfully reminds us, reconciliation is not being used to pass the main bill, it already passed with 60 votes in the Senate. It is being used to make a small number of changes, mainly in the financing of the bill, as the process was designed to do.

The votes are clearly there  in the Senate to pass a reconciliation bill. The biggest question is the House.  Nancy Pelosi has proven adept at getting the big votes through. Nothing is certain, but the odds are much higher for passage than they were two weeks ago.

It is also clear that if this bill fails it will be a long time before Congress makes another attempt at comprehensive reform.

Comments to “The end game on health reform

  1. In my opinion each type of medicine has its place and time. From what I’ve read alternative medicine is more for long-term treatment. It works well but only in cases of “chronic” diseases.Conventional medicine is really important and can not be replaced in extreme cases such as trauma, viruses lack of oxygen, or epidemics of any kind. Remember the song “Ebony and Ivory… Live together in perfect harmony…”

  2. Right on Rick. Alternative medicines are definitely used a lot more outside of the US. Take for instance Olive extracts for strengthening the immune system or Kratom as a pain reliever. These natural medicines are sometimes just as powerful as prescription drugs. Salvia is a natural herb that is probably 10X more intense than hallucinogens created in a lab. We need to start getting FDA approval on medicinal alternatives so that more families can afford drugs.

  3. Alternative medicine is really not alternative any more. More people seek out alternative therapies than conventional medicine today.

  4. Alternative medicine has been part of my life for about 30 years now. I have had no major problems in my life concerning any serious conditions. I do get a cold from time to time but i do try to eat healthy and organic. I also take vitamins and see my chiropractor on a regular basis.

  5. The problems that I was going through were never solved by a regular md instead i started getting educated myself and finally found a natural doctor that 100% complete solved my problem.

  6. You never know. There are other countries besides ours which use alternative healing as the dominant healing mode. India, for instance, uses Ayurveda as its dominant healing mode. I am thinking that people that discredit alternative healing is because they have researched, educated and experienced all or most of the hoistic modalities. If you have not then I would urge you to give it a try.

    Be well,

  7. Alternative medicine is becoming more accepted when we realize that most diseases are psychosomatic. A person can somaticize terrible things.

    It is not fraud … It is caring for the body and harmonize the soul. Sorry, but that’s my experience.


  8. I can’t wait for the day when alternative healing is the dominant healing mode and we don’t need to pass legistation to justify it.

    • I can’t foresee alternative medicine EVER becoming the dominant healing mode in the world. If it is that powerful, it already would have. The fact that it has not, only means that it never will. Sorry if I sound rude!

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