There has been a lot of news coverage this week over the showdown on the Senate Finance Committee over whether to include a public option in the healthcare reform bill. We all now know that after hours of debate two Democratic amendments to add the public option were defeated.
What the press has not been so quick to report is the fact that two Republican amendments that would have helped President Barack Obama deliver on his promise to the American people that if you like what you have now, you can keep it, were likewise turned down.
The Foundry, a publication of conservative Washington D.C. based Heritage Foundation, did report on these amendments. Here is their account:
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) offered an amendment allowing Health Savings Accounts to qualify as minimum creditable coverage under the individual mandate. This amendment failed by a vote of 11-12. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) also offered an amendment which would have prohibited the federal government from setting actuarial values of health insurance plans. This would stop the federal government from forcing persons to buy health benefits they donít need to satisfy the federal governmentís level of health insurance. This amendment also failed, with a vote of 8-14.
Finally, Senator John Ensign (R-WY) proposed an amendment that would allow health plans that met the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code to qualify as health insurance plans under the proposed individual mandate. In effect, the Ensign amendment would have broadened the range of acceptable coverage to include those plans that persons currently have under existing tax law. The amendment would guarantee Americans greater flexibility in choosing their health care coverage. Sen. Ensignís amendment failed on a procedural vote.
In conclusion, The Foundry piece said, ďThe significance of these Senate Committee health insurance votes is that they underscore the point that the Senate has no interest in upholding President Obamaís repeated promise that if you like the health insurance you have today, that you will be able to keep it.”
This legislative process still has a long way to go and we can only hope that the mainstream media will start picking up on some of these more subtle aspects of the the bill being crafted in the Senate.