Thursday, March 25, 2010

One vote away from health insurance reform

Despite the Republicans' best efforts to delay and derail the process with the introduction of 29 amendments and a few rule challenges, the Senate passed the reconciliation bill this afternoon on a 56-43 vote. Three Democrats, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor and Ben Nelson joined the GOPers in voting no. I see primaries in their future. Addtionally, the Republicans did succeed in one parliamentary victory which will require one more vote in the House.

Meanwhile, I didn't get around to posting this picture of President Obama's 22 pen signature on the House bill that was passed on Sunday and signed on Tuesday. I saw some snarking about it, and it really doesn't look at all like his regular sig, which I saw recently somewhere, but I think it's beautiful and remarkably smooth considering how many pens he had to use in order to provide enough souveniers for all the people who were instrumental in getting this thing through. I watched him sign it live and expected it to look much worse.

But in any event, putting aside my superstitions since it looks like everyone agrees the last House vote is going to be pretty pro-forma, and although I'm sure the Republicans will take the opportunity to grandstand one last time with incendiary characterizations of the bill, I think we can say we did it. We're about to witness the single biggest advance in the social safety net in many decades. I'm already thinking fondly of my favorite moment of this whole ordeal, when Joe Biden was caught in that celebratory exclamation. Whoever made this graphic to commemorate that occassion wins the internets forever in my book. That's one of my all time favorite Schoolhouse Rock segments.

Needless to say for those who have been following the tortuous process for the last year, this is far from a perfect bill that gives away far too much to the insurance and pharmaceutical industry but it's just the beginning. This is the merely the foundation on which we can now build a truly universal health care system. It probably won't happen in time to make a difference to me. I'm likely to qualify for Medicare by the time we get that far, but I could go to my grave in peace knowing I did everything I could to ensure that future generations won't have to suffer the same anxiety as I have experienced over medical care.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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