Michaud, Pingree vote for health bill

U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both Democrats, cast votes in favor of the sweeping health care reform legislation that was brought up in the U.S. House of Representatives Sunday night.

Barack Obama, Joe Biden
J. Scott Applewhite

President Barack Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, makes a statement to the nation Sunday night following the final vote in the House of Representatives for a comprehensive overhaul of the health care system, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, March 21, 2010. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Health Care Overhaul
Anonymous

In this image made from video, the vote tally for House Resolution 3590, the Senate health care bill, is shown on Sunday, March 21, 2010. Summoned to success by President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled Congress approved historic legislation Sunday night extending health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and cracking down on insurance company abuses, a climactic chapter in the century-long quest for near universal coverage. (AP Photo/CSPAN)

Pingree, who represents Maine's more liberal 1st congressional district, urged her colleagues to support the reform measure during floor debate leading up to the vote.

“This is the best chance we have had in a generation to truly reform our broken health care system,” she said.

Michaud, who represents Maine's more conservative 2nd congressional district, remained officially 'undecided' until Sunday evening, when his office sent out a release announcing his position.

“The final bill is a vast improvement to the status quo of skyrocketing premiums that millions of families and small businesses currently face,” he said in the statement. “While the package that we will vote on tonight is not a cure for every problem plaguing our health care system, it is a huge step in the right direction that we can build on.”

Both members highlighted the importance of key health insurance reforms included in the bill, such as ending the practice of denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and dropping patients when they become sick.

The legislation is expected to reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the next ten years, with $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction in the following 10 years, Michaud said.

According to his statement, Michaud was reluctant to commit his vote to the measure until the details of how it and additional bills containing technical fixes would impact Maine were made clear.

“I am particularly pleased with the steps that the legislation takes to help small businesses gain access to affordable health care coverage,” said Michaud in the release. “Starting in 2014, small business employees will have access to a health insurance exchange where they will have the group purchasing power of a big business or union to get lower prices and better quality coverage. Starting immediately, small employers will be eligible to receive a tax credit for up to 35 percent of employee premiums. And businesses with 50 or fewer employees, which are about 97 percent of businesses in Maine, will be exempt from any employer mandates contained in the bill.”

Michaud complimented Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe for her work on behalf of small businesses and for successfully crafting many of the small business provisions included in the legislation.

Both Pingree and Michaud also said they were happy with the impact the reform package would have on the Medicare prescription drug plan “doughnut hole,” which has been costly to many of Maine's seniors.

“Each year, 16,800 Medicare beneficiaries in Maine enter the Part D doughnut hole and are forced to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs; under the bill, these beneficiaries will receive a $250 rebate in 2010, 50% discounts on brand name drugs beginning in 2011, and complete closure of the doughnut hole within a decade,” he said.

The legislation passed by the House on Sunday was already passed in the U.S. Senate in a vote taken just before Christmas, though Maine's two senators voted against it.

rmetzler@sunjournal.com

Congress clears historic health care bill

DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Summoned to success by President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled Congress approved historic legislation Sunday night extending health care to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and cracking down on insurance company abuses, a climactic chapter in the century-long quest for near universal coverage.

"This is what change looks like," Obama said a few moments later in televised remarks that stirred memories of his 2008 campaign promise of "change we can believe in."

Widely viewed as dead two months ago, the Senate-passed bill cleared the House on a 219-212 vote. Republicans were unanimous in opposition, joined by 34 dissident Democrats.

A second, smaller measure — making changes in the first — cleared the House shortly before midnight and was sent to the Senate, where Democratic leaders said they had the votes necessary to pass it quickly. The vote was 220-211.

Far beyond the political ramifications — a concern the president repeatedly insisted he paid no mind — were the sweeping changes the bill held in store for nearly every American, insured or not, as well as the insurance industry and health care providers that face either smaller than anticipated payments from Medicare or higher taxes.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the legislation awaiting the president's approval would extend coverage to 32 million Americans who lack it, ban insurers from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions and cut deficits by an estimated $138 billion over a decade. If realized, the expansion of coverage would include 95 percent of all eligible individuals under age 65.

For the first time, most Americans would be required to purchase insurance, and face penalties if they refused. Much of the money in the bill would be devoted to subsidies to help families at incomes of up to $88,000 a year pay their premiums.

For the president, the events capped an 18-day stretch in which he traveled to four states and lobbied more than 60 wavering lawmakers in person or by phone to secure passage of his signature domestic issue. According to some who met with him, he warned that the bill's demise could cripple his still-young presidency, and his aides hoped to use the victory on health care as a springboard to success on bills to tackle stubbornly high unemployment that threatens Democratic prospects in the fall.

Obama watched the vote in the White House's Roosevelt Room with Vice President Joe Biden and dozens of aides, exchanged high fives with Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, and then telephoned Speaker Nancy Pelosi with congratulations.

"We proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things," he said later in the White House East Room. "We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.

Crowds of protesters outside the Capitol shouted "just vote no" in a futile attempt to stop the inevitable taking place inside a House packed with lawmakers and ringed with spectators in the galleries above.

Across hours of debate, House Democrats predicted the larger of the two bills, costing $940 billion over a decade, would rank with other great social legislation of recent decades.

"We will be joining those who established Social Security, Medicare and now, tonight, health care for all Americans, said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, partner to Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the grueling campaign to pass the legislation.

"This is the civil rights act of the 21st century," added Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the top-ranking black member of the House.

 Republicans readily agreed the bill would affect everyone in America, but warned repeatedly of the burden imposed by more than $900 billion in tax increases and Medicare cuts combined.

 "We have failed to listen to America," said Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, leader of a party that has vowed to carry the fight into the fall's midterm elections for control of Congress.

 The final obstacle to the bill's passage was cleared at mid-afternoon when Obama and Democratic leaders reached a compromise with anti-abortion lawmakers whose rebellion had left the outcome in doubt. The White House announced he would issue an executive order pledging that no federal funds would be used for elective abortion, satisfying Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan and a handful of like-minded lawmakers.

 A spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed skepticism that the presidential order would satisfy the church's objections.

 Republican abortion foes also said Obama's proposed order was insufficient, and when Stupak sought to counter them, a shout of "baby killer" could be heard coming from the Republican side of the chamber.

 The measure would also usher in a significant expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor. Coverage would be required for incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, $29,327 a year for a family of four. Childless adults would be covered for the first time, starting in 2014.

 The insurance industry, which spent millions on advertising trying to block the bill, would come under new federal regulation. They would be forbidden from placing lifetime dollar limits on policies, from denying coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions and from canceling policies when a policyholder becomes ill.

 Parents would be able to keep children up to age 26 on their family insurance plans, three years longer than is now the case.

 A new high-risk pool would offer coverage to uninsured people with medical problems until 2014, when the coverage expansion would go into high gear.

 For the president, the events capped an 18-day stretch in which he traveled to four states and lobbied more than 60 wavering lawmakers in person or by phone to secure passage of his signature domestic issue. According to some who met with him, he warned that the bill's demise could cripple his still-young presidency.

 After more than a year of political combat, Democrats piled superlative upon superlative across several hours of House debate.

 Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York read a message President Franklin Roosevelt sent Congress in 1939 urging lawmakers to address the needs of those without health care, and said Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Richard Nixon had also sought to broaden insurance coverage.

 Republicans attacked the bill without let-up, warning it would harm the economy while mandating a government takeover of the health care system.

 "The American people know you can't reduce health care costs by spending $1 trillion or raising taxes by more than one-half trillion dollars. The American people know that you cannot cut Medicare by over one-half trillion dollars without hurting seniors," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.

 "And, the American people know that you can't create an entirely new government entitlement program without exploding spending and the deficit."

 Obama has said often that presidents of both parties have tried without success to achieve national health insurance, beginning with Theodore Roosevelt early in the 20th century.

 The 44th president's quest to succeed where others have failed seemed at a dead end two months ago, when Republicans won a special election for a Massachusetts Senate seat, and with it, the votes to prevent a final vote.

 But the White House, Pelosi and Reid soon came up with a rescue plan that required the House to approve the Senate-passed measure despite opposition to many of its provisions, then have both houses pass a fix-it measure incorporating numerous changes.

 To pay for the changes, the legislation includes more than $400 billion in higher taxes over a decade, roughly half of it from a new Medicare payroll tax on individuals with incomes over $200,000 and couples over $250,000. A new excise tax on high-cost insurance policies was significantly scaled back in deference to complaints from organized labor.

 In addition, the bills cut more than $500 billion from planned payments to hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other providers that treat Medicare patients. An estimated $200 billion would reduce planned subsidies to insurance companies that offer a private alternative to traditional Medicare.

 The insurance industry warned that seniors would face sharply higher premiums as a result, and the Congressional Budget Office said many would return to traditional Medicare as a result.

 The subsidies are higher than those for seniors on traditional Medicare, a difference that critics complain is wasteful, but insurance industry officials argue goes into expanded benefits.

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Comments

socialism

no longer a democracy..... and too big for a national referendum....can you say Socialist States of America

Scott Pare's picture

to my surprise...

The House passed the health care bill and to my surprise the world did NOT end!!!   Amazing...  Note to Republicans: your party is being destroyed by your right wing extremists, who will say anything to try to sway public opinion.  Turn off Fox "News" and gain back control of your party.

Steve Bannister's picture

I am not surprised...

Scottie, stay on Fox news to get a more balanced news scorce than a "thrill running up my leg" MSNBC and the same old Clinton News Network or MPBN. Chris Mathews from the Carter administration, Keith Obermann from ESPN and Rachel Maddow from the hamptons, her daddy real rich you know. great base to get informed?

usually those who say got off fox news don't watch for news.


Steve Bannister's picture

What Bob?

I reread my "rantings" bob. My one track is I disagree with paying taxes for a program for ten years that only provide benefits for six years. If my employer decides to stop providing health care coverage and ops to pay the government imposed fine instead which they have an absolute right to do. I cannot CHOOSE to go without health care coverage and pay out of pocket, correction I can choose to do that, however, I will pay a fine for that option. Also, my wife has a student loan balance which is now paid to the loan management company which will be assumed by the government so the interest of that loan can be used to pay for the pay for 10 years of payments and bennies for 6, health care program. 85% of the people in our country have coverage that most are satisfied with. we are going to spend 1 trillion to insure 10% of the remaining 15% because the remaining 5% of those people in the country are here illegally. and don't qualify, yet. Just a heads up, George Bush is NOT the president. This whole thing is NOT about health care, it is about government!

We are in crisis! Starting now, in four years, we are going to change this thing and get it right, for the next six. Come on, that just doesn't pass the smell test! Comments have been made about Social Security, medicare and medicaid and republicans. Those efforts, although i agree, most of the concerns against were from the republican side although  they were passed through with bipartisan vote. I also agree that the republicans were extremely unified in their opposition to this bill. The president, speaker of the house and senate majority leader did not spend the last 12+ months trying to convince republicans to join them they were pursuing  and convincing democrats. any way I slice it, this is not good.

 

say what you will about George W Bush, who is still not the president.

 

Barack H. Obama has divided this country like never before, racially and economically, of that you cannot deny!

Steve Bannister's picture

Come On!

You got me pegged. I can't disagree with presidential policy on the basis of, I THINK differently about the issue. No I disagree with the policy because, I am a racist! You WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I voted for Clinton the first time, not the second.  If I recall the margin was so low in that election there were three candidates. this bill passed by a margin of 3 votes for passage and 7 overall. This is not about health care this is about government, period!

 

It did not, nor does it now, matter what the general population of this country thinks of the health care bill. The President stated he didn't even know what was in this bill or what the policies and procedures going on on capitol hill only that this needed to be passed. HIS agenda above all else. Not governing, dictating. after more than a year of trying to convince DEM's to get on board. it went right to the 23rd hour of, more than the usual crap that goes on when bills are controversial, you cannot say that that is good government no matter what your affiliation? if you can i hope it is tongue in cheek. He absolutely divides us as a country. If you disagree with the president your a racist?  No one of a different color can run against him can they. if they do they're a racist, correct. women cannot oppose him, they are sexist correct. your comments prove that out.

Steve Bannister's picture

this whole thing smells

The quote was stated in a interview with the president last week.

 

Steve Bannister's picture

what you missed.

B.H. Obama will be president of the world for his entire lifetime! succeeded by Sasha. Come on, catch up!

Steve Bannister's picture

misinformation

I am in sales.  everyone in this country is "required" to buy my product. Ya that sucks! Count me out!

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

So much for Michaud being a

So much for Michaud being a Blue Dog; his true color showed up here. Now, lets pay taxes etc. for 4 years and see how this bill really helps us.

Steve Bannister's picture

Obama is right!

Obama is right! The framers got it wrong. The constitution does not provide opportunities for all Americans to prosper equally! GW Bush should have written it into the constitution during the continental congress that all Americans receive equal pay and benefits, period. We ALL understand the reason all Americans do not already have government provided home, health care, automobile, free college education etc. is because Dick Cheney and George W. Bush are idiots!

The government will now be controlling all student loans. More private sector jobs lost. The jobs numbers being forecast are accurate. that is the estimated number of Government jobs needed to run this massive entitlement program.

We do realize that government provided healthcare is ultimatly paid for by the voting public? along with GM and TARP and the anti-Stimulus. I forgot this ALL NEEDED to be done, not that I want to run a car company or be a banker.

Be in reality the more the government controls and provides the more they can take away.

I love grilled cheese, however, i do not want to be told how and when to eat it. If i choose not to eat grilled cheese i will HAVE TO pay a fine. NICE!

WHACK! thank you sir my i have another!!!

 

Steve Bannister's picture

Tea Party

i feel the negative comments regarding the Tea Party Movement are ignorant. The people involved in this are Americans  dissatisfied with both democrat and republican "politicians" and how their voice is being ignored by the fat cats in Washington D.C. who's salaries are very high and have been there far to long. They feel things need to change from the status quo.  WOW! who doe that last part sound like. Health care talking points anyone?

Steve Bannister's picture

susan2?

susan which list are you refering to? the ayes and the noes? if you mean democrats, there are dem's on both lists? I don't think democrats who voted for this health care bill hate america. I think they voted party over everything else. especially here in maine where 4 out of 5 people are opposed to this particular bill and our representatives voted with party over the people. If you dissagree with it find an alternative in your congressional district take up the fight to help somone defeat Mrs. Pingree and Mr. Michaud be there in November. 

Steve Bannister's picture

to bob and the werks

one, the insurance company ceo's were in the negotiations for this bill, not republicans. remember now everyone is "required" to purchase health insurance, quite the windfall for those greedy insurance companies. two, pre-exsisting conditions and insurance. like the automobile required insurance. if your driving record is bad you pay higher premiums or are denied altogether.  in relationship to this great health care plan.  if you have seven OUI's you "must" have insurance but you can still drive. most important point of all, the government cannot mandate you purchase a product of any kind. sadly for me there was many references to individuals who lost health insurance due to job loss or catastrophic conditions by democrats but not one person from any political stance mentioned loss of life by chooseing abortion. apparently that is not considered a loss or a life.

Mark Wrenn's picture

Popcorn

With so many teabagger heads exploding it kinda sounds like popcorn.

Steve Bannister's picture

my thoughts

Blue state, red state, republican, democrat,independent, it does not matter. i look at it this way. if i purchase something, i.e. a car an apartment or home with the loan term of ten years and i am only able to drive "my" car or step foot into "my" home after i have made four years of payments is not a good deal. if anyone can make an argument that i am really "finally getting something" for my money that will benefit me, write on.

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

this bill sucks!!!

what is the major problem with this bill? the major problem is it does not have a public option and as such violates the constitution of the United States by FORCING EVERY AMERICAN TO BUY PRIVATE INSURANCE if it did have a public offer it might have passed but it did not and since it did not have 3/4 margin it fails to overide the constitution.  There are states who dont even have to force feed the members of thier state insurance and other deals while Maine gets what it always will get crap!! there is NO PART THAT FORBIDS INSANE INCREASES BUT DOES FORCE YOU TO PAY THEM, THIS BILL DOES NOT FORCE INSURANCE EXECETIVES TO PAY FREEZES OR CEILINGS, NOR PROFIT MARGINS FROM SKYROCKETING. IT DOES CREATE A MONOPOLY WITHOUT RESTRAINGHTS.   I am all for insurance overhaul but not this piece of do-do. I am for medical and phemacon profit restraints currently worse than the oil companies and the insurance industry post billions in profits with thier ceos posting millions in yearly saleries. THAT IS WHAT NEEDED TO BE ADDRESSED. SO BASICLY WITH THIS HEALTH INS. PACT I WILL GET MORE INCREASES SO THE BUMS THAT DONT WORK CAN ALL HAVE INSURANCE AND OH YEAH THOSE ILLEGALS THAT LEACH OFF OUR ECONOMY WILL GET THIER FREE INSURANCE AND I WILL EVENTUALY HAVE TO DECIDE TO EAT OR PAY INS. THEN IF I DECIDE TO LIVE AND NOT PAY INS. THEN I GET FINED AND STILL NOT HAVE INS. BUT THE ILEGALS AND THE BUMS WONT WORRY.  

 's picture

so what?

Just another Federal health bill that will be taken away from us.  Vets from 2003 and earlier lost VA benefits inless you are an alcoholic or drug addict or WIA.  Medicare is causing us to lose our doctors that are not being paid.  Pingree's lackey told me I was not allowed to become a Mexican citizen so I could share their benefits.  Well, you dimocrats wanted a change.  Enjoy it.  Going out soon to get my curtain material to make new dress clothes with and find some nets to cover my face with.  Guess I will have to join the mosque moving into the old Grand City store on Maine St. in Brunswick.   It won't even do any good to move back to the US!

Kevin Saisi's picture

Ayuh

You hit the nail on the head. It is good to see that there are still a few conservatives out there who don't resort to childishness to argue their point. When you follow the Glenn Beck school of politics, you are going to fail.

David A. Gagnon's picture

SSDD, your quoting David

SSDD, your quoting David Frum. Frum is by no means a conservative. Frum is a Toronto native pushing his progressive Canadian views. A transplant who has been part of the progressive group in the Republican party for years, that includes the likes of Lindsy Graham and John McCain. He may have been one of many Bush speach writers but he is far from being conservative. He is part of a group of rebublican progressives who have finally had the light shone on them and need to be drummed out of the republican party. Conservatism is far from being  in their blood.

Glenn Aho's picture

I say come November it's time

I say come November it's time to vote these traitors out of office!

Obama's healthcare is bill is the end of America.

It's too bad that the politicans are so brain damaged that they don't know it.

Oh and just so you liberals know I'm not a Republican.

 

Vote red or blue and they still screw you

 's picture

What do you care...you

What do you care...you probably work for the government and get the "preferred status" health care paid for by the private sector who actually create and add to the economy and not take from the economy.  

 's picture

What do you care...you

What do you care...you probably work for the government and get the "preferred status" health care paid for by the private sector who actually create and add to the economy and not take from the economy.  

Glenn Aho's picture

Yup brain damaged

Yup brain damaged

 's picture

You are an absolute simpleton

You are an absolute simpleton devoid of any semblance of intellect. You haven't the slighest clue when it comes to the economy nor, by your own admission, do you have a modicum of understanding for U.S. history.  It is YOU who should get a clue  before you spew your vitriolic ladened diatribe.     

 's picture

SSDD....swing and a miss.

SSDD....swing and a miss. Sorry nice try. You will have to aim better than that.

 

Glenn Aho's picture

I think you're in for a rude

I think you're in for a rude surprise come November if you think this monstrosity will keep the democrats it power.

Considering over 50% of Americans did not want this bill passed, I'd say you are definitely deluded

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