Tonight the health care bill – which, according to CNN, constitutes the biggest expansion of federal health care guarantees since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid more than four decades ago – passed in the House. With all 178 Republicans (and 34 Democrats) opposing, this raises an interesting question for the upcoming days of aftermath: How should Republicans (and those Democrats who voted against it) respond?
Things to avoid: scapegoating, name calling and personal attacks.
Should Republicans shout hostile things from the House floor? No. A Republican lawmaker shouted out “baby killer” as Rep. Bart Stupak explained why he would not support the motion to recommit the bill (from CNN). This hostility will not raise support for Republicans. Nor will personal attacks on those who supported the bill. Nor will scapegoating leaders of health care reform.
In a democratic system, the majority prevails. In this case, the majority was in support of healthcare legislation. Accepting defeat with grace and humility is probably (I apologize for my cynical view) unlikely, but if any grace and humility make a guest appearance in the response from those opposed to health care legislation, I will truly be pleasantly surprised.
Oh, and a few facts about the health care package, courtesy of CNN:
- Congressional Budget Office projections: The bill will cut budget deficits by over $1 trillion in its second decade.
- It will subsidize insurance for a family of four making up to roughly $88,000 annually, or 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Medicaid will be significantly expanded, ensuring coverage to those earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level, or just over $29,000 for a family of four.
- Starting in 2013, it also imposes a 40 percent tax on insurance companies providing expensive “Cadillac” health plans valued at more than $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families.
- Individuals are required to purchase health insurance coverage or face a fine of up to $750 or 2 percent of their income — whichever is greater.
- Federally funded abortion coverage for people purchasing insurance through the exchanges will be banned under the bill now passed by Congress. Exceptions will be made in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother.
- Illegal immigrants will be barred from buying insurance in the health insurance exchanges.
- Closes the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” by 2020. Under current law, Medicare stops covering drug costs after a plan and beneficiary have spent more than $2,830 on prescription drugs. It starts paying again after an individual’s out-of-pocket expenses exceed $4,550.