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  • The House Health Bill: Energy and Commerce Amendments

    The House Energy and Commerce Committee was the last to mark up their health care bill, but the decisions in Energy and Commerce mirrored those of the Education and Labor and Ways and Means sessions. In every case,members of Congress have already gone on record in deciding the most contentious issues in the debate.Taxpayers should take note of several key decisions that the Energy and Commerce Committee members made:

    Gutting Consumer Choice: (Stearns #9, Rogers and Gingrey #10) The President and his congressional allies routinely insist that if Americans like the health insurance that they currently have, they can keep it. But the simple fact is that this is a presidential promise that will not be kept if the House bill, in its current form, is signed into law. Under the House bill, the federal government is authorized to determine what health benefits must be included in Americans’ health insurance plans and federal officials will determine the health plans that would be considered “acceptable” coverage under the law.

    Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) offered an amendment that would ensure that nothing in the bill could prevent individuals from keeping their current health benefit plan. Based on their own reading of the language of the bill, several Committee members did not believe such a guarantee, as proposed by Rep. Stearns, was necessary. So, they defeated the Stearns amendment.

    On a related matter, health benefits plans that include a Health Savings Account (HSA) are popular with many Americans, and they have been growing rapidly in recent years. They are particularly attractive to Americans who prefer high deductible, low premium health plans, and who want to have direct control over how their health care dollars are spent. To protect the existing coverage of Americans who currently have these plans, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) offered an amendment that would include health benefits plans with HSAs in the bill’s definition of a “qualified health benefits plan.” The Committee majority defeated this amendment. In other words, Americans who wish to buy HSA plans would be stripped of their freedom to choose them.

    Jeopardizing Seniors’ Existing Coverage: (Rogers #4) Approximately 20 percent of Medicare enrollees obtain private coverage through Medicare Advantage (MA). MA offers seniors access to a wide variety of private insurance plans with richer benefits or specialized options that best suit their personal needs. The House bill calls for payment reductions to MA plans. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) wanted to protect seniors’ current private coverage under MA. The Rogers amendment would prevent the House bill’s MA reductions from being implemented unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) could certify that those provisions would not cause seniors to lose their current MA plans or be forced to switch plans. The Rogers amendment was defeated.

    Government Price Fixing: (Schakowsky) Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) offered an amendment that would put the government in control of setting prices for insurance premiums for seniors’ prescription drug coverage. The amendment would mandate that premiums for insurance plans offered on the National Health Exchange could not exceed 150 percent of the annual percentage increase in medical inflation, essentially placing a government price cap on premiums. In addition, the amendment would allow the Secretary of HHS to “negotiate” the drug prices in Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans. In other words, the government, not the market, would fix prices for drugs. The Schakowsky amendment passed.

    Federal Funding for Abortions: (Capps, Stupak and Pitts, Pitts #1) Concern over taxpayer dollars to fund abortion has been raised in all three House committees and in the Senate HELP committee. Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) offered an amendment that would require at least one insurance plan to cover abortion in each geographical region. The amendment would also require the newly-created public plan to cover all abortion services, depending upon the fate of the Hyde Amendment, the measure that currently restricts federal funding of abortion. Rep. Capps’ amendment would also allow affordability credits, which are taxpayer-funded subsidies, to be used for health insurance plans that cover abortions.

    Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) jointly introduced an amendment that would specifically prohibit federal funds from being used to cover abortion services. The Pitts-Stupak amendment failed. Rep. Pitts also offered an amendment to block any government requirement on health insurance networks to include abortion. Although this second Pitts amendment initially passed, it was reconsidered and it failed on the second Committee vote. Based on the passage of the Capps amendment and failure of the Pitts and Stupak amendments, taxpayers would end up financing abortion.

    Tilting the Playing Field: (Radanovich #22) Under the House bill, the Congressionally-created public health plan would receive favorable tax treatment and funding for start-up costs. Nearly all independent studies conclude, however, that the public plan would erode private health insurance coverage for millions of Americans. A major reason is that the public plan would not compete on a truly level playing field with private health insurance.

    Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA) proposed that the public plan be subject to the same legal rules and standards and operate in the same business environment as private health plans. He offered an amendment that would impose these various requirements, including payment of state taxes, on the public option. The Radanovich amendment failed.

    Interfering with the Doctor-Patient Relationship: (Gingrey #14, Gingrey #48, Rogers) President Obama has repeatedly told Americans that any health care reform legislation he signs will keep the government out of health care decisions. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), himself a physician, offered an amendment to prohibit federal officials from interfering or dictating how medical providers should treat patients. The Gingrey amendment failed, with 33 Democrats voting against it.

    The House bill authorizes the use of Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) to determine which medical procedures are most effective at treating specific cases, considering both cost and clinical results. Although this provision of such information is perfectly sound policy, many members of Congress are concerned that federal officials could use CER to make treatment, coverage, or payment decisions. To prevent CER from becoming a rationing tool, Rep. Gingrey offered an amendment that would prohibit the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from using CER to make coverage decisions on the basis of cost. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) also offered an amendment that would specifically prevent the federal government from using CER to deny or ration care. In these two cases, the Gingrey and the Rogers amendments both passed on voice votes.

    The Energy and Commerce disposition of this issue will have to be resolved by the Speaker of the House and the House Rules Committee. The reason: amendments to prevent CER from being used as a rationing tool failed in both the Education and Labor and Ways and Means committees. Taxpayers should watch closely to see how these differences are reconciled.

    The Energy and Commerce Committee was the last and final panel of the House of Representatives to act on the policy issues embodied in the Affordable Health Choices Act (HR 3200). Toward the end of the Energy and Commerce mark-up, Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), the leader of the Committee’s “Blue Dog” Democrats, offered a compromise that was accepted. It changed certain key features of the House bill (link to Blue Dog story).

    The next step: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the House Rules Committee are tasked with melding together the three drafts of the bill and reconciling their differences. The challenge is now for Speaker Pelosi to combine three versions of the giant bill into a product that will gain majority support on the House floor.

    This post was co-authored by Julius Chen.

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to The House Health Bill: Energy and Commerce Amendments

    1. fiftyfifty says:

      President Obama and your nine finger enforcer Rahm Emanuel and your race card master David Axlerod your A.G. Eric Holder are shooting blanks which is a good thing right now people are waking up slowing the biggest nightmares are cap and trade HR2454 MUST BE STOPED AND ANY FORM OF HEALTH CARE FIX S.S. FIRST M.C.AND M.C. FIRST.

      Obama in crisis mode doing some race baiting this is classic community organizing move read Saul Alinsky books alone with radical socialist Columbia University professors , Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven.in the day.its also a hope to change the news cycle

    2. Rich Jensen, Minneso says:

      I am writing a letter to my Senators and Representatives regarding the health care bill. I understand that an amendment was added to the bill that required Senators and Representatives to also be covered under this bill. Can you

      e-mail me with the name of the person who submitted this amendment and the number of the amendment, or a webb site that would give me that information. Thank-You very much.

      • Conn Carroll Conn Carroll says:

        Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) proposed an amendment that would require all members of Congress and their staffs to enroll in the newly-created public health insurance plan. His amendment passed by just one vote in the Senate Health Committee. In the House, Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV) offered a similar amendment and all 21 Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee voted it down. If the public plan is so great, then Members of Congress should be willing to forfeit their private coverage and join the millions of Americans who would be moved into the public plan. http://www.foundry.org/2009/08/04/morning-bell-

    3. Pingback: Cstraining - Daily Healthy News Blog » Blog Archive » The House Health Bill: Energy and Commerce Amendments » The Foundry

    4. Pingback: The House Health Bill: Energy and Commerce Amendments » The Foundry | kozmom news

    5. RS from AZ says:

      I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Obama and his Kremlin "goons" for helping us to wake up the American public. People can hardly believe what they're seeing come out of this administration and the same goes for Princess Pelosi's politburo. They may be stupid in Chicago but the rest of the country is paying attention. As for sending your union thugs out to counter senior citizens…well how's that workin' out for ya' Mr. President? How arrogant can one person be?

    6. Tenn Slim says:


      OK, August is nearly over. The Townhalls will soon be MSM history. The cuspe of USA Electorate concern is passing. WHAT NEXT?

      After Labor Day the Congress will return. The flurry of Appropriation budget bills will pass. The continuing flood of EPA regs will not stop. The interior dept. denial of logging roads will continue.


      If I read my neighbors eyes correctly, here on the banks of the Big Muddy, the Left has a problem.

      In the flyover land, the steel has been struck. The Left can continue to play their DC political games, but the Reps have a new play book.

      VOTE SENSIBLE CONSERVATIVE VALUES or SELL THE DC RESIDENCE. In 2010 you are coming home. Grass roots wannabes are gearing up for election time, which starts in just 4 months.

      We will prevail

      Semper fi


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    12. Dorothy Child Lavall says:

      The government hasnm,t any money to fund any bill . If this bill is so good why aren't our elected officals taking it?

    13. David N. Daugherty,L says:

      How can any representative government(they are SUPPOSED TO REPRESENT US) DO AS THEY PLEASE in voting for a bill to install abortion rights in the health care bill?? Approximately 59% of Americans are against abortion coverage at all. Our reps. are voting with the majority and not being our representatives at all.

      Now we learn Sen.Rockefellar has written a bill(secretly behind closed doors) to give the President power to cut off the residential Internet services!!!!!!!!!!

      We no longer are representated by Sen. Byrd or Rockefeller,

      but are being railroaded to SLAVERY.

    14. Gerald Smith, Evansv says:

      I have an appointment to meet with my Congressman this Friday. I plan to bring a copy of this article as proof positive of what the democrats have in mind. God help us if this legislation goes through.

    15. Janet Neaterous says:

      I find this one of the worst slaps in the face God could receive from His creations….This is murder…every life is valuable….what if your mother would have aborted you…if the mother does not want this baby there are plenty of couples that would love to have the baby….ADOPT!!!!!

    16. Pingback: Health Reform Scam » Amendment Process Exposes The Truth About ObamaCare

    17. Sean Kipp New York says:

      I recently met with Sean Shortell, who is congressmen Paul Tonkos district director.He was a nice and polite guy but only sees things through the liberal side.I gave him some questions after an hour of talking and still no real answers.Last week Mr. Tonko held a town hall meeting and there were about 1500 people there and still I dont think this will have any effect on him he is a true liberal.He also voted for cap and trade,the elite think its there job to tell us what is best for us not to listen to us.Send them packing in 2010.

    18. Chuck Turner Erie, P says:

      Town Hall meetings are a joke. I have been to two of them and asked questions on Abortion and gave her Kathy Daulhkemper the Sec 122 4B capps and amendent and was told very rudely that if I wanted to talk about this to see her afterwards. Thew nerve Bob Casey Illegals are not covered Sec 59B Part V111 health care related taxes. Then go to http://www.IRS.gov ITIN nonresident and familys etc Only ones filing income taxes Shame on this government and shame on all of those who kept quiet

    19. Mrs.Sharon Kay McBee says:

      I personally think our government is not longer for the people,it's about power, greed, corruption, segregation, secrecy, deception, lies. I am wakening up to the fact that I have been in the past to apathetic to what goes on in our government, and for the first time in my life I want to speak out to protect my children, grand children and great grand children, while I still can, it won't be long until the government will try to take freedom of speech as well. America belongs to Americans, that was what our fore fathers intended. May God continue to bless America, the home of the brave. God please forgive us. our military who is is harms way and for what?……Mrs. Sharon Kay McBee

    20. Pingback: Obama Speech Fact Check | Old People News

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