Happy Political Clusterf*ck Day (U.S.)! In one corner: the first federal government shutdown since 1996, born of the House GOP/Tea Party faction's crusade to delay, defund, and destroy Obamacare (and the Democratic Senate and President's resolve to not do that). "Continuing resolutions" have ping-ponged between the two houses, fighting over language to cancel healthcare reform (plus a few other items, such as the implementation of Mitt Romney's entire economic agenda). National parks are closed, contractors are hamstrung, and 800,000 federal workers furloughed until Speaker Boehner drops the "Hastert Rule" and passes a bill the other branches can agree to. In the other corner, heedless of the chaos (though not without glitches of its own): the official rollout of the Affordable Care Act and its state insurance exchanges. The portal at Healthcare.gov is your one-stop shop for browsing, comparing, and purchasing standardized, regulated insurance coverage with premium rebates, guaranteed coverage, and expanded Medicaid for the poor (in some states). A crazy day, overall -- but peanuts compared to what might happen if the debt ceiling is breached in 16 days. [more inside]
HR 2, officially the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act", has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 245 to 189. 3 Democrats (Reps. Boren (OK), McIntyre (NC), and Ross (AR)) joined all 242 Republicans voting Aye. The bill will not be brought for a vote in the Senate, nor would it escape veto by President Obama. [more inside]
Landmark health care reform legislation passes senate on a Christmas-eve party line vote. So after a turbulent and contentious legislative process with many sudden reversals and last minute surprises, what's actually in the bill? NPR offers a "Consumer's Guide" to the form the final, reconciled legislation now seems likeliest to take. [more inside]
What kind of health insurance would you have as a federal government employee? The Office of Personnel Management would like to help you decide among the gazillion plan choices you have. Perhaps you are a Congress member? Then head on down to the Attending Physician of the United States, "It's one of the, quote, benefits of being in Congress," Kagen said. "They have physicians and nurses that will see you on the spot, on the beck and call." (link to single page print version). [more inside]
People are starting to get a little worn out on Healthcare coverage, or at least, a little worn out on the way it's been covered. Thank god our own grrarrgh00 isn't listening. Because someone has to spread the truth about Obama's nazi socialist communist granny killing satanist witchcraft healthcare reform.
Three committees of the United States House of Representatives have released the House's version of healthcare reform--the America's Affordable Health Choices Act. The bill [1000 page pdf] [summary] introduces a Health Insurance Exchange, minimum standards for benefit packages, protections for consumers, and a "level playing field" public insurance option with the right to use Medicare rates for the first three years. Initial reactions are positive.
Can You Spot a Lobbyist? Who made up the bulk of the audience when Congress began work on health care reform legislation? Lobbyists, according to this photo ID-crowdsourcing project, part of Dollar Politics, a new NPR investigative series. Bill Moyers shines some sunlight too, with Some Choice Words for 'The Select Few.'