Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) may have announced that he expects to vote for Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) health bill this afternoon, but that leaves Reid with just 59 votes. He needs to get all three of the following holdouts to sign on the dotted line by Christmas:
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE)
As we have thoroughly documented before, there are nearly two dozen abortion funding prohibitions in current federal law that reflect two basic principles: 1) that, except in situations involving the life of the mother, rape and incest, the federal government will not pay for or reimburse for abortions under federal programs like Medicaid; and 2) that, with the same exceptions listed above, the federal government will not subsidize insurance plans that offer coverage for abortion. This is why the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB), military insurance through TRICARE, and the Indian Health Service do not cover abortion unless the mother’s life is at risk.
Reid’s health bill would change all that, forcing Americans to subsidize elective abortions for the first time in more than 30 years. Nelson told Face the Nation this Sunday: “I still have the unique issue of abortion. I’ve said I can’t support the bill with the abortion language that’s there.”
Pro-abortion Democrats in the Senate are going to have to vote for a Stupak-Pitts-like amendment, reaffirming our nation’s policy not to use taxpayer money for elective abortions, before Nelson will become the 60th vote.
Sen. James Webb (D-VA)
In the Winchester Star today, Webb announced that he is “still undecided” on how he will vote. Webb voted with conservatives five times for amendments that would have prevented Reid from stealing almost $500 billion from Medicare to pay for his massive new health insurance company bailout. Webb also described himself as a “long-time supporter of Medicare Advantage programs which have, in my view, greatly improved services in rural areas of Virginia.”
Webb may want to pay particularly close attention to the latest report from the non-partisan and independent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS), the agency in charge of running Medicare and Medicaid, which reads:
Lower benchmarks would reduce [Medicare Advantage] rebates to plans and thereby result in less generous benefit packages. We estimate that in 2015, when the competitive benchmarks would be fully phased in, enrollment in MA plan would by 33% (from a projected level of 13.7 million under current law to 9.2 million under the proposal).
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
McCaskill told the Associated Press this weekend: “The whole reason we’re doing this bill is to bring down cost, first for the American people in health care, and secondly for the deficit.” AP adds: “Asked if she would vote against the bill if it raised health care costs overall, she said, ‘Absolutely.’”
According to the same CMMS study mentioned above, Reid’s health care bill will not bring down the cost of health care. Instead, the bill does the opposite, raising national health expenditures by $234 billion, bending the cost curve in the wrong direction. And according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Reid bill raises health insurance premiums for millions of Americans, which is exactly what happened when similar legislation was passed in numerous states.
Finally, McCaskill is an honest Senator who recognized Reid’s attempt to separate the Medicare “doc fix” as the dishonest shell game that it was. When the cost of the doc fix is included in the Reid bill, Obamacare ends up adding $196 billion to the deficit in the first 10 years and $765 billion in the second decade.