(H.R. 3590, H.R. 4872) Legislation making major changes to the national health care system, including expanding health coverage to uninsured Americans -- On bringing to a final vote the resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments
This was a procedural vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments to a major Senate-passed health care bill -- as well as a separate companion bill making changes to the Senate health measure.
If passed, this particular procedural motion -- known as the “previous question" -- effectively ends debate and brings the pending legislation to an immediate vote.
The Senate-passed bill imposed a requirement that most Americans have health insurance, added 15 million people to the Medicaid rolls, provided funding to subsidize the purchase of private health insurance coverage for low- and middle-income people, and prohibited insurance companies from refusing coverage because of “pre-existing conditions.” The Senate bill would also place a 40% tax on high-cost insurance plans -- or those plans that worth more than $27,500 for families, and $10,200 for individuals. The bill was estimated to cover 31 million uninsured individuals. Under the bill, an estimated 95% of Americans would have health insurance.
The separate companionbill would make a number of changes to the Senatelegislation, including delaying the implementation of the tax on high-cost insurance plans until 2018. It would also expand coverage to 32 million people, one million more than the Senate-passed bill. The second bill was brought up by Democratic leaders under a process known as budget reconciliation. This process shields the bill from a filibuster in the Senate, allowing it to pass that chamber with a simple 51-vote majority.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) argued the legislation would expand access to health insurance and prevent abuses by private health insurance companies: "Our bill covers an estimated 32 million Americans in a fiscally responsible way that improves Medicare benefits, holds insurance companies accountable, and helps small business owners with coverage. We are finally gaining ground against insurance special interests. Small businesses, the backbone of our economy will get tax credits if they make health care coverage available for their workers. We offer free preventive care for people on Medicare. We help people who have retired at 55, 10 years before they are eligible for Medicare. And we ban the lifetime and yearly limit on coverage."
Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) argued the legislation would fail to reduce health care costs or improve the quality of care Americans receive: "This is not a bill that will increase access to care or improve its quality. It will not rein in costs. What it will do is add an enormous amount of new government bureaucracy to our existing system. It will spend $1 trillion at a time when our deficit is already $1.4 trillion, and our total national debt exceeds $12 trillion. It will cripple the small businesses that are already struggling in this economy and will further drive up unemployment."
The House agreed to the motion ordering the previous question by a vote of 228-202. 228 Democrats – including all of the most progressive members -- voted "yea." All 178 Republicans present and 24 Democrats voted nay. As a result, the House proceeded to a final vote on the resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments on a Senate-passed bill making major changes to the national health care system -- as well as a separate companion bill to make a number of changes to the Senate-passed measure (including delaying the implementation of the tax on high-cost insurance plans until 2018).