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POLITICO Breaking News:
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Democrats and Republicans have agreed to take the vote on final passage of Senate health reform legislation at 8 a.m. Christmas Eve, far earlier in the day Thursday than originally expected, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev. ) announced.

For more information…http://www.politico.com

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Update. Fixed link.

I think the way everyone has been flooding her email the last few days, Barbara Boxer wanted the chance to speak about the health reform bill we may be about to embark upon. As many of you know, I remain on dial-up, and try to keep my formating for others using the same method. In dial-up format, watching uTube is a lot like watching paint dry. However, For those of you with something faster:

Boxer Speaks on Historic Health Care Bill

If she does a text print of it I’ll send it around later. Otherwise, for those of you with something faster, let me know what she says.

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Part seven of the continuing saga of H.R.3590.

On December 21 at 1:08 AM EST, the Senate voted to invoke cloture on H.R. 3590. This means they have decided to cut off further debate and vote on whether to pass the health reform bill, still known under it’s original title as the “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009”, but amended to read: “ Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”.

This means the fifteen amendments and the agreed to tabling motions will stand. The remaining 459 amendments that were submitted will not be debated. There are, however, two additional new amendments that were submitted and agreed to as part of the motion to invoke cloture. They are: S.AMDT.3276, the so called “Manager’s Amendment”, introduced by Harry Reid, and S.AMDT.3277, an amendment as seen below, that directs the bill start date to be five days after it becomes an act by presidential signature.

S.AMDT.3276 contains the language directing the “compromise” on women’s rights over their bodies regarding abortion.  It also contains the language on Medicaid disbursement by the Federal Government for new Medicaid patients. There is an intriguing reference to ARRA on page 13500, which might mean something if they decide to extend it.

S.AMDT.3276 was only available on the Congressional Record pages, so I have cut, pasted and printed the pages to .pdf to produce the document S.AMDT.3276.  As with any pdf document it is keyword searchable. For your info, in the Record, 39 pages were used, however, when I printed it to .pdf, it took 178 pages.

The final vote, possibly turning this thing into an act, may come today.

Manager’s Amendment

S.AMDT.3276

Amends: H.R.3590, S.AMDT.2786

Amendments to this amendment: S.AMDT.3277

Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (submitted 12/19/2009) (proposed 12/19/2009)

AMENDMENT PURPOSE:

To improve the bill.

TEXT OF AMENDMENT AS SUBMITTED: CR S13490-13529

STATUS:

12/19/2009:

Amendment SA 3276 proposed by Senator Reid to Amendment SA 2786. (consideration: CR S13477-13478)

12/19/2009:

Cloture motion on amendment SA 3276 presented in Senate. (consideration: CR S13477-13478; text: S13477-13478)

12/20/2009:

Considered by Senate.

12/21/2009:

Considered by Senate.

12/21/2009:

Cloture on amendment SA 3276 invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 60 – 40. Record Vote Number: 385.

COSPONSORS(3):

Sen Baucus, Max [MT] – 12/19/2009

Sen Dodd, Christopher J. [CT] – 12/19/2009

Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] – 12/19/2009

Enactment Date Amendment

S.AMDT.3277

Amends: H.R.3590 , S.AMDT.3276

Sponsor: Sen Reid, Harry [NV] (submitted 12/19/2009) (proposed 12/19/2009)

AMENDMENT PURPOSE:

To change the enactment date.

TEXT OF AMENDMENT AS SUBMITTED: CR S13529

STATUS:

12/19/2009:

Amendment SA 3277 proposed by Senator Reid to Amendment SA 3276. (consideration: CR S13478; text: CR S13478)

12/20/2009:

Considered by Senate.

12/21/2009:

Considered by Senate.

SA 3277. Mr. REID proposed an amendment to amendment SA 3276 proposed by Mr. Reid (for himself, Mr. Baucus, Mr. Dodd, and Mr. Harkin) to the amendment SA 2786 proposed by Mr. Reid (for himself, Mr. Baucus, Mr. Dodd, and Mr. Harkin) to the bill H.R. 3590, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the first-time homebuyers credit in the case of members of the Armed Forces and certain other Federal employees, and for other purposes; as follows:

At the end of the amendment, add the following:

The provisions of this Act shall become effective 5 days after enactment.

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Politico is reporting that the Senate has reached a compromise on the Health Care Reform Plan.

By CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN & CHRIS FRATES | 12/19/09 9:34 AM EST

Updated: 12/19/09 12:57 PM EST

POLITICO 44

Senate Democrats announced a deal Saturday morning on a wide-ranging overhaul of the nation’s health care system, setting a course for a vote by Christmas and delivering President Barack Obama a badly needed victory on his top legislative priority.

A 13-hour negotiating session that stretched into the night Friday finally clinched the support of the last Democratic holdout, moderate Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) The handshake deal cleared the way for a series of votes that could stretch until 7 p.m. Christmas Eve.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30807.html

Blue Lyon has a good synopsis of what the Health care reform might do to abortion as it relates to State exchanges. For a .pdf description of a health exchange go HERE.

Senator Ben Nelson’s snagging of 100% Federal funding for all new Nebraska Medicaid patients, is a perfect example of the argument expressed by EuandUs last week on the difference between Representatives and Senators – that being how Representatives represent people and Senators represent states.

To reach this bill’s passage they will have to do a lot of voting yet, and then send it to reconciliation with the House bill. It’s gonna take 45 million to make Senator Nelson make him king of his state. In the mean time, the Stupakians are plotting. Which persons actually are involved in the reconciliation anyway? Anyone know?

And what about all those remaining 459 amendments sitting there?

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Part Five in the continuing saga of H.R.3950

Today, the 15th of December, the Senate conducted four record actions regarding H.R.3950. One amendment was agreed to, one amendment to an amendment was rejected, an amendment was rejected and a motion was rejected. (Again remember, as you read below, that H.R. 3950 was changed from the homeowner’s bill to the Health bill.)

S.AMDT.3183, submitted by Senator Bacus, on 12/11/09 was agreed to. It amends HR. 3950 as follows below:

[At the appropriate place, insert the following:

SEC. __. PROTECTING MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES FROM TAX INCREASES.

It is the sense of the Senate that the Senate should reject any procedural maneuver that would raise taxes on middle class families, such as a motion to commit the pending legislation to the Committee on Finance, which is designed to kill legislation that provides tax cuts for American workers and families, including the affordability tax credit and the small business tax credit.

TEXT OF AMENDMENT AS SUBMITTED: CR S13047]

The Motion by Senator Crapo, presented on Dec. 13th, to commit HR. 3950 to the Committee on Finance was rejected by a vote of 45 yeas, 54 nays and one not voting.

S.AMDT.2793, submitted by Senator Dorgan on 12/1/09, was to amend, agreed to amendment S.AMDT.2786, which in turn amended H.R.3950. (It is listed on the pages as S.AMDT.2792. I’m not sure why.) After consideration over four days, it was rejected. Although the vote was 51 yeas and 48 nays, with one not voting, it failed because it did not meet the minimum 60 votes needed, as agreed to at the beginning of this health care battle.

The text is 16 pages long, running from S12072-S12087.

It begins by it’s proposed insertion on page 1738, between lines 3 and 4 of S.AMDT.2786 wherein the proposed amendment runs almost the page amending slightly, conditions, definitions and penalties for various Federal health care offences. It then adds this beginning Section that continues for the next fifteen pages:

[…TITLE X–IMPORTATION OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

SEC. 10001. SHORT TITLE.

This title may be cited as the “Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009”.

SEC. 10002. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that–

(1) Americans unjustly pay up to 5 times more to fill their prescriptions than consumers in other countries;

(2) the United States is the largest market for pharmaceuticals in the world, yet American consumers pay the highest prices for brand pharmaceuticals in the world;

(3) a prescription drug is neither safe nor effective to an individual who cannot afford it;

(4) allowing and structuring the importation of prescription drugs to ensure access to safe and affordable drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration will provide a level of safety to American consumers that they do not currently enjoy;

(5) American spend more than $200,000,000,000 on prescription drugs every year;

(6) the Congressional Budget Office has found that the cost of prescription drugs are between 35 to 55 percent less in other highly-developed countries than in the United States; and

(7) promoting competitive market pricing would both contribute to health care savings and allow greater access to therapy, improving health and saving lives…..]

As interesting as this section was, the line up of who voted for and against it was just as interesting- paring liberal Democrats with Republicans and centrists. A look at the cosponsors will give you an idea. Those voting against it deserve some scrutiny to see why.

Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME] – 12/1/2009

Sen Grassley, Chuck [IA] – 12/1/2009

Sen McCain, John [AZ] – 12/1/2009

Sen Stabenow, Debbie [MI] – 12/1/2009

Sen Klobuchar, Amy [MN] – 12/1/2009

Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] – 12/1/2009

Sen Shaheen, Jeanne [NH] – 12/1/2009

Sen Vitter, David [LA] – 12/1/2009

Sen Kohl, Herb [WI] – 12/1/2009

Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] – 12/1/2009

Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] – 12/1/2009

Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] – 12/1/2009

Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] – 12/2/2009

Sen Franken, Al [MN] – 12/2/2009

Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI] – 12/4/2009

Sen Johnson, Tim [SD] – 12/4/2009

Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] – 12/7/2009

Sen Webb, Jim [VA] – 12/7/2009

Sen Tester, Jon [MT] – 12/7/2009

Sen Begich, Mark [AK] – 12/10/2009

Finally, S.AMDT.3156 submitted on 12/10/09 by Senator Lautenberg was rejected. As with the above amendment, the vote failed at 56 yeas and 43 nay, with one not voting, because it did not meet the minimum 60 votes needed. 14 pages long, it too dealt with the importation of drugs and began:

[At the end, add the following:

TITLE X–IMPORTATION OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

SEC. 10001. SHORT TITLE.

This title may be cited as the “Pharmaceutical Market Access and Drug Safety Act of 2009”.

SEC. 10002. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that–

(1) Americans unjustly pay up to 5 times more to fill their prescriptions than consumers in other countries;

(2) the United States is the largest market for pharmaceuticals in the world, yet American consumers pay the highest prices for brand pharmaceuticals in the world;

(3) a prescription drug is neither safe nor effective to an individual who cannot afford it;

(4) allowing and structuring the importation of prescription drugs to ensure access to safe and affordable drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration will provide a level of safety to American consumers that they do not currently enjoy;

(5) American spend more than $200,000,000,000 on prescription drugs every year;

(6) the Congressional Budget Office has found that the cost of prescription drugs are between 35 to 55 percent less in other highly-developed countries than in the United States; and

(7) promoting competitive market pricing would both contribute to health care savings and allow greater access to therapy, improving health and saving lives.

SEC. 10003. REPEAL OF CERTAIN SECTION REGARDING IMPORTATION OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.

Chapter VIII of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 381 et seq.) is amended by striking section 8…]

I find it interesting that if so many Senators are willing to say that we are being unjustly charged, that we aren’t just going after Pharma for monopolistic practices.

Anyhow, that’s where we are today, except for one more point. The Senate has managed to plow through and dispense fifteen amendments. We are now up to FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY SEVEN submitted amendments! Only four hundred and twenty two more to go.

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Medicare coverage for those aged 55-64

[POLITICO Breaking News:
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The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations. Lieberman threw health care reform into doubt Sunday when he told Reid that he would filibuster the bill if it allowed Americans ages 55 to 64 to purchase coverage in Medicare.

For more information…http://www.politico.com%5D

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The continuing saga of H.R. 3590.

Members of the Senate have now submitted 150 amendments to H.R. 3590, including approved S.AMDT.2786, which changed the name of the bill to the PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL AMERICANS, and substituted the health care text for that of the original bill involving homeownership. As you may recall that amendment was approved on November 21st when the motion for cloture was agreed to.

Since that time the following additional five amendments have been approved, one amended amendment has been approved and one has been tabled:

S.AMDT.2791 – Mikulski Amdt. 2791 As Amended (by AMDT.2808.); To clarify provisions relating to first dollar coverage for preventive services for women.

S.AMDT.2826 – Bennet Amdt. No. 2826; To protect and improve guaranteed Medicare benefits.

S.AMDT.2870 – Whitehouse Amdt. No. 2870; To promote fiscal responsibility by protecting the Social Security surplus and CLASS program savings in this Act.

S.AMDT. 2899 – Stabenow Amdt. No. 2899; To ensure that there is no reduction or elimination of any benefits guaranteed by law to participants in Medicare Advantage plans.

S.AMDT.2926  – Kerry Amdt No. 2926; To protect home health benefits.

S.AMDT.2939 – Pryor Amdt. No. 2939; To require the Secretary to provide information regarding enrollee satisfaction with qualified health plans offered through an Exchange through the Internet portal.

And one motion to successful tabling of an amendment S.AMDT.2963 – Motion to Table Nelson Amdt. No. 2962; to prohibit the use of Federal funds for abortions.

On the other side, the following five amendments have been rejected and 4 motions have been rejected:

S.AMDT.2836 – Murkowski Amdt. No. 2836; To ensure patients receive doctor recommendations for preventive health services, including mammograms and cervical cancer screening, without interference from government or insurance company bureaucrats.

S.AMDT.2901 – Thune Amdt. No. 2901; To eliminate new entitlement programs and limit the government control over the health care of American families.

S.AMDT.2905 – Lincoln Amdt. No. 2905; To modify the limit on excessive remuneration paid by certain health insurance providers to set the limit at the same levels as the salary of the President of the United States.

S.AMDT.2927 – Ensign Amdt. No. 2927; Relative to limitation on amount of attorneys contingency fees.

S.AMDT.2942 – Gregg Amdt. No. 2942; To prevent Medicare from being raided for new entitlements and to use Medicare savings to save Medicare.

McCain Motion to Commit H.R. 3590 to the Committee on Finance; Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009.

Hatch Motion to Commit H.R. 3590 to the Committee on Finance; Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009

Johanns Motion to Commit to the Committee on Finance; Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009

McCain Motion to Commit H.R. 3590 to the Committee on Finance; Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009.

As you can see, with only twelve amendments dispensed out of one hundred and fifty, the battle and debate for our national health care is not done. It seems a little unrealistic for Reid to say they will be done by the Holiday Break- but hey, he’s the expert.

Senator Boxer’s successful push to get the “Nelson Abortion” abortion tabled , was tremendous. It might take some of the pressure off. HERE is the vote:

Grouped By Vote Position
YEAs —54
Akaka (D-HI)Baucus (D-MT)

Begich (D-AK)

Bennet (D-CO)

Bingaman (D-NM)

Boxer (D-CA)

Brown (D-OH)

Burris (D-IL)

Cantwell (D-WA)

Cardin (D-MD)

Carper (D-DE)

Collins (R-ME)

Dodd (D-CT)

Durbin (D-IL)

Feingold (D-WI)

Feinstein (D-CA)

Franken (D-MN)

Gillibrand (D-NY)

Hagan (D-NC)Harkin (D-IA)

Inouye (D-HI)

Johnson (D-SD)

Kerry (D-MA)

Kirk (D-MA)

Klobuchar (D-MN)

Kohl (D-WI)

Landrieu (D-LA)

Lautenberg (D-NJ)

Leahy (D-VT)

Levin (D-MI)

Lieberman (ID-CT)

Lincoln (D-AR)

McCaskill (D-MO)

Menendez (D-NJ)

Merkley (D-OR)

Mikulski (D-MD)

Murray (D-WA)Nelson (D-FL)

Reed (D-RI)

Reid (D-NV)

Rockefeller (D-WV)

Sanders (I-VT)

Schumer (D-NY)

Shaheen (D-NH)

Snowe (R-ME)

Specter (D-PA)

Stabenow (D-MI)

Tester (D-MT)

Udall (D-CO)

Udall (D-NM)

Warner (D-VA)

Webb (D-VA)

Whitehouse (D-RI)

Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs —45
Alexander (R-TN)Barrasso (R-WY)

Bayh (D-IN)

Bennett (R-UT)

Bond (R-MO)

Brownback (R-KS)

Bunning (R-KY)

Burr (R-NC)

Casey (D-PA)

Chambliss (R-GA)

Coburn (R-OK)

Cochran (R-MS)

Conrad (D-ND)

Corker (R-TN)

Cornyn (R-TX)

Crapo (R-ID)DeMint (R-SC)

Dorgan (D-ND)

Ensign (R-NV)

Enzi (R-WY)

Graham (R-SC)

Grassley (R-IA)

Gregg (R-NH)

Hatch (R-UT)

Hutchison (R-TX)

Inhofe (R-OK)

Isakson (R-GA)

Johanns (R-NE)

Kaufman (D-DE)

Kyl (R-AZ)

LeMieux (R-FL)Lugar (R-IN)

McCain (R-AZ)

McConnell (R-KY)

Murkowski (R-AK)

Nelson (D-NE)

Pryor (D-AR)

Risch (R-ID)

Roberts (R-KS)

Sessions (R-AL)

Shelby (R-AL)

Thune (R-SD)

Vitter (R-LA)

Voinovich (R-OH)

Wicker (R-MS)

Not Voting – 1
Byrd (D-WV)

If you want to know more go HERE.

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Link over to the Confluence HERE. They caught it as Senator Boxer was able to effectuate  tabling the  Nelson Amendment on abortion. I’ll have more later.

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If you want to make your own evaluation of the health bill’s progress, go to Thomas at the Library of Congress. In fact, aside from information from pundits you trust, this is one of the best ways to avoid heart palpitations. That is because the amendments are numbered and entered before they are debated. That gives you a little time to read them for yourself and ponder a few questions. Here is how:

As we said, on November 21st the Senate agreed to debate H.R. 3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”.  That debate began on December 2nd. Since  HR. 3590 was amended by S.Amdt.2786, and changed to the health care act, as of this morning, another 91 amendments have been proposed. Several have been voted on and approved.

They are numbered and listed in numerical order as they arrive to the Senate Floor. Most of them do not yet have titles, but are to be given them at the time of their debate. They all have text and can be found and read by doing a search at the Library of Congress. If you want to try, it’s really pretty easy after you get the hang of it, and it is public information to which everyone is entitled. Go HERE.

This is the search page for all bills.  Type in where it says “word/phrase”, the title: “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”, and hit the orange search button below.

Right now this search will give you a list of around 60 possible bills, with one at the top listed exactly as entered. That is H.R.3590.AS. Clicking on that link will take you to the index of the bill, from which you can do several interesting things. Click the link that says: “Bill Summary & Status file”. This will give you an overview of all the places the bill’s activity is being recorded.

Click “Amendments”. This will give you a list of 92, or possibly more, later in the day, with the first one, S.AMDT.2786 that changed the bill from a homeowners affordablity bill, to a health care bill at the top. It you want to read more about these later, or get the text just click on one of the amendment numbers.

However, let’s do a back click to the previous page. All the current information about the bill that the Library of Congress has can be gathered from this location. The current text can be downloaded from here; also cosponsors, dates, and related bills.

If you want to know what happened yesterday, The Congressional Record (CR) does what it’s title suggests; It records for posterity all the debate and action that occurred. So click the link that says “Congressional Record with Amendments”. This will take you to an index of all activity that H.R.3590 has received since it was first introduced to the Senate.

As an example, scroll down to 12/2/09 and AMDT.2808. It says it was proposed by Durbin for Vitter. The number below; CRS12152 is the link to the overview of  the index of the actual debate and speech as recorded in text. Don’t be fooled by the title, “SERVICE MEMBERS HOME OWNERSHIP TAX ACT OF 2009”, remember, that was the bill’s title before it was gutted and the health bill inserted. The CR must maintain the chain of information. Click on the top link dated “Senate – December 02, 2009”. There is the index. The debate for S.AMDT.2808 is index listed by page. Clicking a page will give you a word for word text of the debate till the next page.

Back clicking to the Congressional Record index and checking all the references for S.AMDT.2808, you will see that this amendment was voted on and passed. So, it is now a part of bill H.R. 3590.

Similarly, if you want to see what was said by Senator McCain, yesterday, in regards to Social Security, check out December 3rd. On November 30th he had recommended that the Bill be sent to the Finance Committee. That motion was voted down yesterday.

Try it out, and make up your own mind about what is happening.

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H.R. 3590 is on the Senate schedule for debate tomorrow. Open Congress is reporting that an Abortion amendment similar to the Stupak amendment is likely to be introduced by Senator Nelson. However, it’s thought that the Democrats will filibuster, thus forcing a 2/3 vote. They think they have it and can prevent the amendment’s inclusion. Check the link below:

http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/1381-Senate-Will-Vote-on-Controvesial-Abortion-Language

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