18 December 2009

It's Melting, It's Melting!

Health Reform Will Not Include Medicare Buy-in for Those 55-64

A week ago, a compromise Senate deal on health reform had nixed
a public insurance option and replaced it with provisions
letting those 55 or older buy into Medicare and allowing
nationwide nonprofit private plans overseen by the federal
Office of Personnel Management.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), who opposes the public option,
seemed to be in agreement. By last Sunday, however, Lieberman
had changed his mind. According to The Boston Globe, the
Medicare buy-in became as objectionable to him as the public
option. His explanation for the flip-flop is that expanding
Medicare would add to the federal deficit, but he came to
this conclusion before the Congressional Budget Office had
its analysis.

Senate Democratic leaders have now laid out an ambitious
timetable for passing the health care bill on Christmas Eve.
To be successful, the plan assumes Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-NV) will have three key elements before the weekend: the
bill's cost estimate from the Congressional Budget
Office; the legislation completely written and available to the
public; and assurance from all 60 members of his caucus that
they will vote for the package.

"There will be good things for seniors in the Senate bill.
However, the House bill is far superior, and we will work
tirelessly to include specific pieces from the House,
like the public option, and to exclude the Senate's excise
tax on higher-cost insurance plans, when the bill gets
to conference committee," said Barbara J. Easterling,
President of the Alliance for Retired Americans".

She continued, "The Senate bill includes some relief for plans
with early retirees as well as delivery system reforms that may
lead to lower costs in the long run. And Senate leaders have made
a commitment to close the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole,
which is so important to seniors. However, the Alliance continues
to insist that employers pay their fair share, and that genuine
health care reform must bring down health costs, hold insurance
companies accountable, and assure that Americans can get the
health care they need."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted against an amendment to loosen
prescription drug importation rules as part of the health care
bill. The measure had been sponsored by a bipartisan group of
lawmakers led by Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).
However, it fell short of the 60 votes needed for approval - the
final tally was 51 in favor, 48 opposed. Click HERE
for the complete results of the vote.

Dorgan criticized an alternative amendment, sponsored by
senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, both
New Jersey Democrats, and Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), as
inadequate, because it would only allow the importation of drugs
if the federal government's health secretary certified they were
safe and lowered costs. This amendment also fell short of the 60
votes needed for approval; the vote was 56 in favor, 43 opposed.

Those results are available at click HERE

Since last Friday, Alliance for Retired Americans community
activists and volunteers had sent more than 3500 letters to all
Senators urging them to vote in favor of the Dorgan-Snowe

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