Health Care

Truman. Johnson. Obama.
March 22, 2010

Care for the sick. Serenity for the fearful. Those are the simple, elegant terms Lyndon Johnson used to describe Medicare on July 30, 1965, the day he signed it into law. He said it at the side of Harry Truman, who was nearly 80 then. They were at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, where Johnson had come to pay homage. It was Truman who had waged the first serious campaign for national health insurance.

BREAKING: House Passes Senate Bill; Reform to Become Law
March 21, 2010

Health care for all is about to become law of the land. On Sunday evening, the House of Representatives voted for the Senate's health care bill--a bill that would make affordable insurance available to nearly everybody, strengthen coverage for those who have it, and nudge American medicine in the direction of higher quality and lower costs. The final tally was 219 to 212, with the vast majority of Democrats voting for it and every single Republican opposing it.

A Victory For Social Justice, Hallelujah!
March 21, 2010

I don’t mean to poach on Jonathan Cohn’s turf, or Jonathan Chait’s either. For all the hysteria of the Republicans and the shady deals of the majority party, the passage of universal health care is a triumph of the democratic idea and of the democratic ideal. “Choose equality and flee greed,” Matthew Arnold urged the nineteenth-century British. Still, from the vantage point of class stratification, England remains a rigidly layered society.

Taking Care of Family Business
March 21, 2010

When Democrat Bart Stupak announced he'd be supporting health care reform, thanks to an agreement on abortion rights, a reporter asked Stupak if he'd consulted with fellow Michigander, John Dingell. "Yes," Stupak smirked, "Mr. Dingell had a piece of me last week." He went on to explain that the two had been in close contact. "I kept him apprised of what I was doing," Stupak said, "and he kept me apprised of the need to move forward." Stupak may simply have been paying homage to Dingell, who has been something of a mentor over his career.

With Stupak, Democrats Have the Votes (Confirmed)
March 21, 2010

The abortion issue isn't going to stop health care reform. In a late afternoon press conference, Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak and six of his Democratic colleagues announced that they were dropping their objections to the Senate bill, thanks to a new executive order that makes clear taxpayer dollars won't finance abortion services. Instead, the seven Democrats said, they will vote yes when the Senate bill comes up for consideration later tonight.

BREAKING: An Ugly Scene
March 21, 2010

You may have heard or read about the ugly scenes on Capitol Hill yesterday, when a few conservative activists shouted racial and homophobic epithets at Democratic lawmakers. Today the conservative activists are back. And so is the ugliness--only this time, a few Republicans were actually encouraging them. That's an incendiary charge, I know. But let me describe what just transpired here inside the House of Representatives: Moments ago, while members were on the floor for a vote, a protester stood up in the visitor's gallery and began shouting "Kill the bill! Kill the bill!

UPDATED: Very, Very Close
March 21, 2010

(Click here to follow all the latest developments via Jonathan Cohn's Twitter feed.) John Larson, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told ABC News' Jonathan Karl on Sunday morning that 216 of his members have committed to vote "yes" on the Senate's health care bill. NBC reported early in the afternoon that Michigan's Bart Stupak, who led a group of Democrats threatening to oppose reform over abortion rights, has agreed to support it. And while House Democratic leaders have been warning that final commitments are not nailed down--indeed, CNN has since reported that Stupak has not yet affi

Closing Arguments
March 21, 2010

(Click here to follow all the latest developments via Jonathan Cohn's Twitter feed.) My Saturday began on the West lawn of Capitol Hill, where conservative activists were mounting one final, desperate effort to block health care reform. They came by the thousands, carrying flags and pushing strollers, in a demonstration of genuine grassroots fervor. They chanted “Kill the Bill,” over and over again, in a vaguely menacing tone that, perhaps, foretold a bit of ugliness to come. But the most remarkable thing about the demonstration was how little it had to do with health care.

The AMA Endorsement and Why It Matters
March 19, 2010

In rapid succession, the AARP and American Medical Association (AMA) have endorsed health care reform. This is consistent with what they've said all year long. And it's important all the same. Democrats need both groups' support, not because of their fundraising clout but because of their credibilty with the public. Older voters, in particular, take cues from the groups. When conservatives say the Democrats want to kill Medicare or, worse, kill Grandma, it helps when Democrats can respond by citing the approval of these two organizations.

Late-Breaking Developments
March 19, 2010

The latest developments on health care, via my Twitter feed: