Thursday, November 12, 2009

11 amendments rejected requiring Congress to enroll in government plan

health insurance

According to, over 200 amendments to H.R. 3962 were rejected before Saturday's vote on the healthcare bill. 11 of these amendments required Congress and other government officials to enroll in the same health care plan as the American people. All 11 of the amendments were rejected without debate. Those critical of the health care bill offered the 11 amendments to showcase the problems with H.R. 3962.

“If Congress forces our constituents into a public option plan over time, then members of Congress should be expected to do the same,” Rep. Howard McKeon told CNS. “Democrats voted down a similar amendment, 21-18, in the Ways and Means Committee during the July markup of HR 3200,” McKeon told reporters. “It became apparent then that Democrats are afraid of being put on a government-run health care program, but that fear does not extend to the welfare of their own constituents.”

The House Rules Committee attempt was McKeon's second attempt to amend H.R. 3962 to include legislators in the public option. H.R. 3962's public option would be a government health insurance agency run by the Department of Health and Human Services and available through the federal Health Insurance Exchange. The public option, democrats claim, would bring competition to the insurance industry, and lower costs. A government run public option, however, can artificially lower its own costs at any time, without anyone to oversee or question it; such power could eventually put private insurance out of business, when it can no longer lower its own costs and maintain a profit. This would force Americans onto the public option with no where else to go.

Unless, of course, one works for the government.

"This is one of those classic hypocritical moments for the Democrats,”said Matt Lavoie, spokesman for Rep. Wally Herger. “They simply don’t want to put up with the public option that they are preparing to inflict on the American public.”

And why not, if the plan proposed in H.R. 3962 is so great? Democrats should be clamoring to be the first to enroll for such a plan. Yet, they are oddly reluctant to have anything to do with the public option. Oh, Washington! It never speaks well for a plan if the ones proposing it won't have anything to do with it!

Democrat Vincent Morris, communications director for the House Rules Committee, claimed that the 11 amendments were rejected because no one, even Congress, will be forced to sign on to government-run health care. No, Mr. Morris. No one said Americans would be forced to sign on to it. But they will be forced onto it, when all other options evaporate.

“The reason we didn’t support those amendments is because the public option was created precisely to give the American people a choice between private and public [insurance], Morris said. “Given that all Americans have a choice about whether to join the public option, we thought it didn’t make any sense to force members of Congress to join.”

Mr. Morris ignored the fact, however, that Americans already have the choice of private verus government run health care. Medicaid and Medicare are already readily available to the American people. Americans did not need a bill to legislate a choice they already had.

"This bill fails to address the problems with Medicaid and instead adds millions more Americans to the program,” Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas told CNS. “Forcing members of Congress to walk a mile in the shoes of Medicaid patients I believe is the only way Congress will get serious about making the fundamental fixes to Medicaid that the program needs.” And yet, Congress will not do so, because Congress is not interested in walking a mile in the shoes of the American people.

Burgess offered his amendment to make Congress "a mandatory covered population under Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid) without consideration of any other asset or qualification test.”

J. Gresham Barrett of South Carolina told CNS, however, that Democrats could exude confidence in their own bill if they agreed to be part of the same system they are legislating to the American people. “If members of Congress and the White House administration truly believe that a government health care option will provide the same timely and quality care that private sector health insurance does, then they and their staffs should be required to enroll in this option,” Barrett said. “If it is good enough for American families, then it is more than good enough for Washington bureaucrats. Therefore, I decided to offer an amendment which would mandate all members of Congress, their staff, and administration officials to participate in the public option.”

Indeed, Mr. Barrett, why isn't the public option good enough for democrats?