The Senate voted to advance its plan early Sunday morning for comprehensive health insurance. In the end, Senator Harry Reid succeeded in producing the 60 votes necessary to do that.
In securing those votes required to bring the bill to the floor, he had to strip the bill of provisions desired by a majority of Democrats in Congress. The measures dropped included anti-trust prohibitions aimed at preventing insurance companies from continuing to conspire to fix prices; a tort reform scheme that could have saved the government $54 billion over the next ten years; authorization for insurance policy shopping across state lines; use of U.S. funds by poor women to pay for abortions; allowance of Medicare to negotiate volume discounts on prescription drugs that, over a ten-year period, could have saved a trillion dollars; and the inclusion of a government option which would have provided insurance companies with competition.
I support the Senate’s decision to pass the bill. I now support efforts to have the final legislation coming out of conference to include many of the items in the House bill which must now be reconciled with the Senate bill. I also applaud the courage of Dr. Howard Dean who opposed the legislation as a sellout to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and advocated a no vote, even though for tactical reasons, I would have voted yes.
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