House Countdown to Friday on Health Care

Despite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s pronouncement yesterday that the health are “reform” bill may not come to a vote in the senate this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still pushing and shoving her caucus to the brink, insisting on a vote as early as Friday night.

One of the two big steps remaining before the vote — the so-called “manager’s amendment of final changes — was revealed last night.

The “Amendment to H.R.3962 Offered by Mr. Dingell of Michigan,” otherwise known as the Manager’s Amendment, is out and up online.  Democrat Rep. John Dingell, Chairman Emeritus of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is the bill’s manager, thus the name.

The amendment was dropped in last night at 10:07 p.m., starting the clock on the 72 hours to read it before a vote promised by Speaker Pelosi.  Should the Speaker hold to that promise, it would mean the earliest vote on passage of the bill would be Friday at 10:07 pm.

The Republican anxiety over poring through an additional “Manager’s Amendment” — rumored to be “over 800 pages or more” — was assuaged for a short time last night by an amendment only 42 pages in length.  That brings the total page count so far to 2,032.  But there’s more.  

The most glaring omission in the “Manager’s Amendment” is that it does not address federal funding of abortion.  Currently, H.R. 3962, like its predecessor H.R. 3200 that was read aloud at town hall meetings nationwide, does not specifically bar the use of federal funds for abortion.

Language to address the abortion issue is still being hammered out behind closed doors.  According to reports this morning, the abortion language could be included in the bill’s rules dropped at the last moment as a means to block folks from actually scrutinizing it before the vote.

“If Speaker Pelosi intends to address critical issues like taxpayer funding for abortion in the rule, they should make it available for the American people to read for 72 hours,” said Mike Steel, spokesman for Republican leader John Boehner.  

Pelosi must address the issue as Rep. Bart Stupack (D-Mich.) claims to have 40 solid votes against if the federal funding of abortion is not specifically barred.

The other major bone of contention for Democrats who oppose the bill is the coverage of illegal aliens.  The “citizenship verification requirement” is the same system that currently allows at minimum 10 million illegal aliens to work in this country under false or stolen Social Security numbers.  

The bill allows the same lax system to allocate the “affordability credit,” which is the means by which the government will pay for the government-approved exchange insurance mandate on individuals.  Like the American citizen, illegals will be able to qualify for the taxpayer-funded insurance payments — based on income — by providing the Social Security Number under which they work and a name.  There is no required photo identification.  Clearly a name and Social Security Number are not deterrents to the rampant fraud already in the system.

The “manager’s amendment” compounds and extends the problem by also using this fatally-flawed system of citizenship verification as the means for entry into the more expensive, high-risk pool coverage.

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, expressed his concerns to HUMAN EVENTS this morning over the amendment.

“When it rains it pours,” Camp said.  “This amendment only increases the government involvement in health care, raises more taxes and opens more taxpayer subsidies to illegal immigrants.  This bill will be a disaster for our health care, a disaster for our economy and a disaster for the financial future of our country.”

All of the mechanisms for health care rationing remain in place, all of the cuts to Medicare, the unfunded mandates are still imposed on the states by the vast expansion of Medicaid, the 111 new government bureaucracies are still created — the entire parade of horribles is still included in this bill despite public objection.

The billions of dollars that could be saved by addressing the issue of tort reform was not included in the bill or the amendment.  To the contrary, the manager’s amendment includes a block on grant funding to states targeted at tort reform if they have a cap on attorneys’ fees and damages.

There are ten pages in the amendment covering BTU credits and biofuels (page 14, Sec. 555), which have literally nothing to do with health care: it’s an enviro-regulation money grab to help offset the huge costs of the bill, an estimated $1.6 trillion if you include “doc fix,” the payment to doctors to make up for the underpayment of their costs to provide services to Medicare patients.

The amendment also has a surprise new tax:  the complete abolition of the “Worldwide Allocation of Interest” beginning 2010 which is a provision from the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 whose implementation has, in the past, been kicked down the road by Democrats.  

Ryan Ellis, the tax policy advisor at Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington-based public policy group, told HUMAN EVENTS this morning that this tax hike will change the way companies with operations in several countries can allocate their interest deductions.

“The U.S. is one of the last countries in the world that seeks to tax income not earned here,” Ryan said.  “This, combined with our highest-in-the-world corporate tax rate, pushes jobs and capital overseas.  If the goal of the Democrats is to outsource jobs, tax hikes like this are a good way to do it.”

The full text of the 219-page bill offered by Republicans as an alternative to Pelosi’s 2,032-page government takeover of health care is now available at  A summary of the alternative bill can be found here.