The Senate health care bill passed in the Senate early this morning, by a 60 – to – 39 party-line vote. The only senator not to vote was Jim Bunning (R) of Kentucky, who’s been absent much of the week for unknown reasons. Possibly he’s forgotten how to find the Capitol Building.
I think there are still a lot of questions about what’s in the Senate bill — which of course will not necessarily be in the final bill — so here are some informative articles —
First, on the excise tax on “cadillac plans.” Under the Senate bill if a policy costs more than $8,500 for a person or $23,000 for a family, the insurer would have to pay a 40 percent tax on the cost above that threshold. Retiree policies require a slightly higher threshold. Ezra Klein explains why this provision probably is a good idea, although it’s not the best the Senate could have come up with.
Some recent commenters seem to think that the mandates are only in place because the private insurers wanted them, and that I support them only because I’m a mean person who wants to force people to buy expensive insurance policies. There is actually a solid and rational reason why there have to be mandates. Also, Joshua Holland has a good article on the mandates at AlterNet, in which he provides data showing how much people will have to pay for their insurance. I think you will find this information reassuring.
See also Paul Krugman: “how anyone can call a plan to spend $200 billion a year on Americans in need a defeat for progressives is a mystery.”
Brad DeLong has a letter signed by several prominent economists supporting the bill. See also Timothy Egan, “Profiles in Cowardice.”
Ezra Klein, “Winning Ugly, But Winning.”
Nate Silver says debating “kill the bill-ers” is getting to be a lot like debating global warming denialists. They are unswayed by, you know, facts.
Vice President Joe Biden presided over the session and, on the floor, members seemed aware of the moment’s historical import. The ailing Robert Byrd, who had to be wheeled in to the chamber for each of this week’s four votes, reportedly shouted “for my friend Ted Kennedy, aye.”