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  • Obamacare: Day One Finance Committee Amendments

    On September 23, 2009, the Senate Finance Committee continued its markup of the Baucus health bill,  the “Chairman’s Mark” , of the America’s Healthy Future Act of 2009.

    While fewer than ten amendments were voted on at the September 23rd mark up of the bill, there are still more than 500 filed. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, says he wants to complete the mark-up of the conceptual language (not the actual bill language) by the close of business on September 25th.

    Senators made a number of key decisions concerning the deliberations on the bill itself and policy issues that would affect millions of Americans. Of note are six major Senate decisions:

    • Transparency of the Bill Language Itself. ( Amendment C4). Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered an amendment that would have required that actual legislative text, as well as a final Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate of the cost of the bill, be posted for 72 hours on the Senate Finance Committee website for public review before the Senate Finance Committee could vote on its final passage. Senator Bunning, along Senators Olympia Snowe ( R-ME) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) strongly supported this amendment, citing Americans’ desire for transparency in the process and the need to obtain an accurate cost analysis from CBO. The Bunning amendment was defeated on a largely party-line vote, with all Senate Democrats – with the exception of Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AK)- voting against it. Opponents offered a number of objections, including the fact that the Senate Finance Committee was under no such previous expectations, and that most Americans would not be able to understand the legislative language anyway. Senator Baucus and the Senate majority instead voted to post the “conceptual language” and a “complete cost analysis from CBO” ahead of the Committee vote on final passage.
    • Patient Access to Physicians in Medicaid and Medicare. ( Cornyn D2 and D4). Senator Cornyn (R-TX) offered two amendments to protect the doctor –patient relationship in Medicare and Medicaid. Under the first Cornyn amendment (D 2) , the Senator proposed that the Secretary of HHS must certify that at least 75 percent of the physicians in the United States would accept Medicaid patients before the proposed mandatory Medicaid expansions are implemented. The Cornyn amendment failed on a voice vote. Senator Cornyn’s second amendment ( D-4) would provide that physicians would have a positive payment update for their Medicare reimbursement under the Medicare program beyond 2011. The idea behind the amendment was to ensure seniors’ access to Medicare services. The second Cornyn amendment also failed on voice vote.
    • Benefit Cuts In Medicare Advantage. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) offered an amendment( D7) that provided that if the Medicare funding reductions in the Medicare Advantage program , as proposed under the Chairman’s mark, were to result in a loss of benefits for seniors using Medicare Advantage, those provisions would be nullified. The Hatch amendment failed (9-14). Senator Baucus offered an alternative to Hatch’s amendment, which provided that no statutory benefits to Medicare beneficiaries would be cut. It is worth noting that many health policy analysts, as well as CBO, have indicated that payment reductions in Medicare Advantage plans, which offer richer benefits than those required of traditional Medicare, would result in benefit reductions. Nonetheless, Senator Baucus’ alternative amendment passed (14-9).
    • Reforming Medical Liability Laws (Ensign Amendment D4, Cornyn Amendment D13, and Kyl Amendment C25) Senators John Ensign (R-NV), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) all offered amendments to advance medical liability reform to lower health care costs at the state and federal level.
    • Senator Ensign’s amendment sought to reward states for enacting medical liability reform by providing an increased federal Medicaid payment by adjusting the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) increase for children covered under the Medicaid program. Ensign proposed that the additional federal cost of the Medicaid increase for this purpose would be offset by reducing eligibility under the Federal Poverty Level threshold for health care tax credits for health care coverage under the provisions of the Chairman’s mark. The Ensign amendment was defeated in a procedural vote.
    • Senator Cornyn’s amendment would have required any state receiving funding from the federal government for Medicaid to limit claimable non-economic damages in medical liability cases to $1 million or less. The Cornyn amendment was also defeated in a procedural vote. Senator Kyl’s amendment was similar to the Ensign and Cornyn amendments. It was also defeated in a procedural vote.

    In addressing key issues of transparency, Medicare benefit cuts, and medical liability reform, members of the Senate Finance Committee, just like their counterparts in the House Ways and Means Committee, are making and clarifying their intentions on health care policy. While the Senate mark-up continues, ordinary Americans will have the opportunity to see clearly what the majority of Senators have in mind. Actions speak louder than rhetoric.

    Erica Suares and Kathryn Nix of the University of Wisconsin, an intern in the Center for Health Policy Studies contributed research for this post

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    26 Responses to Obamacare: Day One Finance Committee Amendments

    1. Dar FL says:

      I thought we were going to have a president that believes in …transparency. But it looks like the senate does not think they need to post the healthcare bill because the american people are not smart enough to read or understand it. The politicians must be the only people in america smart enough to know what they are talking about.

    2. Sharon, MO says:

      One minor correction. We already have Claire McCaskill, please don't hang Baucus around our necks too! He does not represent MO, thankfully.

    3. Brad L, Phoenix says:

      Well, the proposal that is to be posted before the vote will more than likely be good meaning intentions without any of the details of how it will be implemented.

      Let's see if Baucus fulfills his promise "Senator Baucus and the Senate majority instead voted to post the “conceptual language” and a “complete cost analysis from CBO” ahead of the Committee vote on final passage."

    4. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      This entire Obama world is becomming surreal. Every day the Demorats are attempting to force

      legisation down our throats as fast as possible, without allowing us to see the acutal bill in print and/or time for us, nor the CBO, to understand and thus report on the bills. We all must realize words like "transparency" was just one of many lies Obama used to fraudulently get elected. Is this still the UNITED STATES? These people in Washington must be stopped. We cannot wait nor rely on elections any longer with groups out their such as ACORN, SEIU, APOLLO, so on and so on. It is our duty to take our country back.

    5. Jerry from Chicago says:

      500 hundred amendments left to vote on as of end of business, Sept. 23rd? And Max Baucus wants them all voted on by end of business today, the 25th,hmmm. Think Max will get what he wants?

      If theses amendments get the same type of Senatorial scrutiny given to the Stimulus bill, they may have all the voting done by lunch today, it is after all, Friday.

    6. Jerry from Chicago says:

      To Dar in FL — Of course Mr. Obama believes in transparency, I can see right through him, can't you?

    7. Sanford Trado, Hudso says:

      We need to hold all those elected officials responsible for this run away train. This is a defining moment for this country and we the voters if we re-elect those Senators for not acting wisely and in the best interest of this country. The Republicans and people need to continue to voice their opinion. The Democrats will make their own bed.

    8. Bill Tulsa, Oklah says:

      There's only one reason this amendment to post information 72 hours in advance was defeated, democrats don't want any means to be available for us to hold them accountable for voting on this "insane" health care "program"! Note to democrats: it won't work! We will hold you accountable for your voting. 2010 is coming! You need to start looking for another job, now! Possibly GM will provide you with a job!

    9. Normca says:

      How do we like the fact that these Bozos are discussing what is okay for us, however they are exempting themselves. Send the democrats back to their homes for good in Jan. 2011 by getting out to vote next year for Republican Conservatives.

    10. Spencer Peters, Cars says:

      If transparency became a fact Obama and his administration would not last 24 hours.

    11. Roberta Guagliardo, says:

      The arrogance of this Congress is monumental. Since they think the American public is too stupid to read and understand the plan maybe we will be too stupid to vote them back in. Can't we file a lawsuit to make them cease and desist?

    12. Bob says:

      Transparency HUH the only thing transparent about this administration is them WE SEE RIDHT THRU THEM.THis Bacaus Bill is a TROJAN HORSE to a Single payer system

    13. sherlane dick - Hono says:

      Leave the people who do not have or will not get health insurance be handled by their individual states.

      The federal government cannot afford it.

      Thank you

    14. DAN MOFFATT says:



    15. Pingback: Department of Offense » Morning Bell: Obamacare Puts Transparency and Accountability on Death Bed » The Foundry

    16. Richard, TX says:

      Posting "conceptional language" doesn't mean a thing. "Legislative language" is the important part because then the Democrats can't structure a meaning around it. Conceptional language hurt us in the Stimulas Bill. Democrats turned it into pet projects and pork.

    17. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Forget Obamacare, it if faceless, baseless and without facts to back up the need!

      Limit "Tort Claims", something that everyone in DC knows of , being attorneys or having Law degrees, and all Insurance reduces greatly, and through capitalism and open competiton, so will Medical Insurance!


    18. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      Hey Guys, don't you know we are too "Stupid" to understand what they are saying and therefore they must act for us?? What happened, did the Constitution go out and another form of Gov't. enter when I was asleep. We, as in "WE THE PEOPLE" need to step up and stop this idiodic Congress from acting, we are now getting our children brainwashed, the video I saw last night and again this morning looks like Nazi Germany, I thank God my children and most of my grandchildren are grown. Let our battle cry be "Nov. 2010", enlist anyone you can and besure they vote.

    19. Pingback: True leadership will not be measured by the ability to muzzle dissent - Taxpayer Soapbox

    20. Pingback: » Financial News Update – 09/25/09 NoisyRoom.net: Where liberty dwells, there is my country…

    21. Pingback: Prayer, News and Action » Uncategorized » Obamacare Puts Transparency and Accountability on Death Bed

    22. Linda Carlsbad, CA says:

      The government can't pay the Veterans for their college. Wait until our Docters and Hospitals, have to wait for the Federal Government to pay them. We the People don't want their take over of our private health care, that we pay for. Their regulations has already made our insurance costs go up. There are hardly any choices anymore. We need more choices, less government involvement. We need them to stay out of our lives, and pay attention to our national security!

    23. EricG1, NY says:

      We all recognize the fact that there is no transparency and most likely will never be any….. We need to shed the party line rhetoric and get rid of ALL SITTING REPRESENTATIVES.

      This is the only way we can truly clean house… remember – 2 short election cycles and it's OUR country again!!!!! I love this place!

      Thank you Heritage!

    24. Pingback: Fix Health Care Policy | Obamacare Puts Transparency and Accountability on Death Bed

    25. just another RWE, GA says:

      Based on the speed of the past nine months' path toward the destruction of the Federal Republic, is there any hope that we'll have anything that remains by 2010? Cloward-Piven…employed to it's fullest. Transparency in this administration means invisible. The liberals are blasphemous in their intent to obliterate the United States Constitution and ignore the Citizens.

    26. Pingback: Baucus Bill Politics « Canterbury Blues

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