Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Update on the Senate debate

In case you blinked in the past few days, Senators were considering — then scrapped — expanding Medicare to people starting at age 55.

They ditched the idea almost as fast as they pitched it, thanks to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s comments on television Sunday. He said he wouldn’t support the healthcare legislation if it included Medicare expansion or a public option.
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So there went those provisions. The Democrats need his vote to pass the legislation, so they agreed to do away with those parts of the legislation.

Lest you think they have gutted the bill of controversial items, the WSJ health blog notes that there is still plenty to fight over: “People will still be required to buy insurance or pay a penalty. Insurers will still be required to sell policies to people with pre-existing conditions. And some people who don’t get insurance through work will still get federal subsidies to help them afford insurance, with subsidies sliding based on income.”

In other news, a provision that would allow the import of prescriptions drugs was narrowly defeated.

And an amendment that would have banned the sale of doctors’ prescription data for marketing purposes is still alive but has been shelved. Staffers have said it is unlikely to be a part of the healthcare overhaul.

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