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.