Braley undecided on health insurance reform vote (updated)

On Sunday, the House of Representatives will vote on the Senate’s health insurance reform bill and some “fixes” to that bill. The procedural details have not been fully worked out (David Waldman takes you through the weeds here and here), but it’s clear that the vote will be very close. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needs to find 216 votes to pass the bill.

Various whip counts are floating around the internet. Take your pick from David Dayen’s version at FireDogLake, the Chris Bowers tally at Open Left, or the latest from The Hill staff. Several Democrats who voted against the House health care reform bill in November have announced plans to vote for this version. However, others who voted for the House bill remain undecided or have said they will vote no.

Today Peter DeFazio (OR-04) threatened to vote no on the bill because of changes in language on correcting geographical disparities in Medicare spending. DeFazio explained, “We spent months working this out. If we don’t get it in this bill, we will never get it.” The Huffington Post reported that other House Democrats share DeFazio’s concerns.

Because all three Iowa Democrats in the House strongly supported the changes to Medicare reimbursement rates that were included in the House bill, I contacted their offices today to find out whether they, like DeFazio, consider this issue a deal-breaker. I have not yet heard back from staffers for Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03) or Dave Loebsack (IA-02), but a spokeswoman for Bruce Braley (IA-01) sent me this response:

Congressman Braley has spent hours in meetings with Speaker Pelosi and House Leadership this week, discussing the need to correct geographic disparities in Medicare reimbursement and how those corrections can be accomplished in this final bill.  Congressman Braley is still very much undecided on how he will vote on the reconciliation package and this is one of many factors that will play a role in his final decision.

I’ve never seen Braley on any list of wavering Democrats on the health insurance reform bill. If he and DeFazio do end up voting no, it will be much harder for Pelosi to find 216 votes. On the other hand, a compromise could be reached before Sunday:

At her press briefing Friday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked about Rep. Peter Defazio’s objections to the removal of the Medicare disparity fix from the final bill. “We’re working on that language,” said Pelosi. “I feel comfortable about where we are heading.” She said she supports the language that was in the House bill and is working toward restoring it as much as possible.

“We have reached agreement before,” she said of the dicey political issue.

I will update this post if and when I hear back from Loebsack’s and Boswell’s offices.

UPDATE: Loebsack’s spokeswoman confirmed that he will vote for the bill. Boswell seems like a firm yes as well, judging from an e-mail blast he sent yesterday, which I have posted after the jump.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Braley confirmed that he will vote for the bill because of the deal on Medicare reimbursement payments I discussed in more detail here.

Dear Fellow Iowan,

Since the health care discussion began ramping up last summer, I have always considered the needs of all Iowans when weighing solutions to our country’s broken health insurance system. As the House will soon vote on historic health insurance reform legislation, I wanted to share with you how this bill will impact specific groups within Iowa’s 3rd District.

   * For Iowa’s Small Businesses – Provides tax credits for small business owners who choose to provide affordable coverage for their employees.

   * For Iowa’s Seniors – Strengthens Medicare and closes the “Donut Hole” for Medicare Part D prescription drug plan beneficiaries. AARP strongly supports this legislation.

   * For Iowa’s Families – Prohibits insurance companies from denying children coverage for pre-existing conditions within six months of enactment and allows parents to keep their children on their family health insurance plan until their 26th birthday.

   * For Iowa’s Women – Prohibits insurance companies from classifying gender as a pre-existing condition and makes coverage more affordable.

For up-to-date information on health care and other legislation, visit my Latest News Blog.

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  • Good Sign

    The fact that all the new complaints coming out are parochial concerns seems like a good sign to me – my current Rep. (Capuano) has been making the same noise about Massachusetts-related language or lack thereof in the bill.  It’s not going to be pretty but enough of these people are going to get what they want now or in the future for the bill to pass.

  • I couldn't imagine Braley

    voting no.  If he has higher aspirations than US Congressman within the Democratic Party, there’s no doubt he’ll vote yes.

    • I also can't imagine it

      but I can imagine Pelosi getting slightly better language in the final deal if she can go to Reid and say she has several yes votes in jeopardy over the Medicare reimbursement rates.

      • I do think

        that Nancy Pelosi has very little power over Harry Reid.

        She may run the House like Delay did, whipping everyone into line, but she still doesn’t hold sway over Harry “The Pugilist” Reid.

        On a separate note, could this vote be any closer?  Perhaps the biggest bill in our lifetimes, and it may be 216-215 when it’s all said and done.  Crazy.

  • publicity hound

    Everybody wants to get a little more attention before the vote.  I trust the vote counters you cite more than I believe Braley’s vote is wavering.

  • Boswell didn't get back to you???


    Guess he didn’t learn any lesson from his Channel 8 experience when he didn’t get back to them EVER either.

    Why are we paying him at this point?

  • UPDATE: Braley to vote "Yes"

    Braley announced today that he would vote yes.