Crucial Health Care Vote Fails in Senate

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Even with a 60-vote majority in the Senate, Democrats failed to pass the $247 billion “Doc Fix” yesterday, raising questions about just how possible it will be to pass larger and more contentious health care reform in the future.

According to a report by Patients First, a project of Americans for Prosperity™,  the Senate voted yesterday 53-47 to defeat a plan to move $247 billion dollars in spending from the main health care bill in an attempt to purchase the support of doctors in the larger health care debate while concealing the full cost of the health overhaul in a shadow bill.

Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) abruptly scheduled the vote that would have increased Medicare payments to doctors by $247 billion. The tricky tactic, which would also have required a vote to waive Senate budget rules, raised criticism since it would conceal the total cost of the health care plan being considered in Congress by splitting the overhaul into two separate bills.

The Senate Finance Committee recently voted for a $904 billion plan, but the addition of this $247 billion bill would have pushed the total cost of the overhaul to well over $1.1 trillion, violating the White House’s pledge to keep the health care plan deficit neutral.

“The 53 Senators that voted against this hastily-crafted backroom health care deal deserve credit,” said Phil Kerpen, policy director of Patients First. “Leader Reid’s attempt to use outright deception and trickery to conceal the true costs of the attempted Washington takeover of health care has failed.  Americans have the right to know the details of how government-forced health care would impact their access to quality affordable health care.  Transparency and open debate, not backroom deals and legislative gimmicks, offer us a way forward towards real health care reform.”

Politico’s Chris Frates’ says the vote was a bigger loss than supporters expected.

“The fact that Democrats, who hold a 60-vote majority, could not muster even 51 votes for the bill is a sign of rocky sledding ahead for health care. It is a warning shot that even popular legislation — most lawmakers support the doc fix — could be easily bogged down if it is viewed as a deficit busting vote. And comprehensive health care reform is anything but widely popular in Congress.”

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