Department of "Huh?"
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Up-or-Down Vote on Health Care Reform

Greg Sargent watches Barack Obama do something he shouod have done ten months ago::

White House: If GOP Filibusters, We’ll Pass Health Reform Via Reconciliation: In the course of unveiling Obama’s new health reform proposal on a conference call with reporters this morning, White House advisers made it clearer than ever before: If the GOP filibusters health reform, Dems will move forward on their own and pass it via reconciliation.... “The President expects and believes the American people deserve an up or down vote on health reform,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said on the call.... [H]e added that Obama’s proposal is designed to have “maximum flexibility to ensure that we can get an up or down vote if the opposition decides to take the extraordinary step of filibustering health reform.” Translation: If the GOP doesn’t cooperate with us in any meaningful sense, we’re moving forward on our own.

Also on the call, White House advisers detailed Obama’s new proposal, which was just posted on the White House web site, and discussed the ways it seeks a compromise between the Senate and House proposals. Among the details:

  • As expected, the plan has no public option — but this does not preclude a reconciliation vote on the public option later.

  • The proposal boosts the threshold for the “Cadillac” tax on the most expensive health plans from $23,000 for a family plan to $27,500. That’s actually a better deal than some labor officials were expecting, though some House Dems will still be angry that the tax is being included at all.

  • The proposal also preserves the Senate bill’s state-based exchanges, and does not have a national exchange, as the House bill did.

  • However, House Dems will be cheered by the fact that Obama’s compromise closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” coverage gap.

  • Also, the bill nixes Ben Nelson’s Nebraska deal and boosts Federal financing for Medicaid expansion in all states.

  • And finally, as expected, Obama’s proposal creates a Federal panel to monitor and block exorbitant rate hikes and other unfair practices by the insurance industry...

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