UPDATE 1-Healthcare changes head to Obama for signature

Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:20pm EDT

(Adds details on signing, paragraph 4)

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday formally signed and sent to President Barack Obama the final installment of landmark healthcare overhaul legislation.

"This our gift to the American people," said Pelosi, who celebrated her 70th birthday on Friday.

The much smaller companion bill to the broad overhaul signed this week by Obama includes changes sought by the House that would make insurance more affordable, raise taxes on the wealthy and close a gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage for the elderly. [ID:nN22224563]

Obama will sign the companion bill, which also includes changes in the U.S. student loan program, on Tuesday at a community college in Virginia, the White House said.

Congress is beginning a two-week spring break and Democrats plan an all-out effort to try to sell the package to a skeptical public. Republicans remained united in their opposition to the sweeping $940 billion overhaul and have vowed a campaign to repeal it. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Take a Look on healthcare [ID:nHEALTH]

Graphic link.reuters.com/guv84j ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Obama plans to travel to Maine on April 1 to speak about healthcare.

Passage of the bill concluded a fierce year-long battle that tied up lawmakers, dented Obama's popularity and set the stage for a bitter campaign for control of Congress in November.

The overhaul of the $2.5 trillion healthcare system is the most dramatic change in health policy in four decades. It will extend coverage to an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans and bar insurance practices like refusing coverage to those with pre-existing medical conditions. (Reporting by Donna Smith and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Alexander and Xavier Briand)

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Comments (8)
If the House Democratic majority passes Obama’s health care proposals, one of two things will happen by Election Day, 2010 – and neither one will be healthy for the Democrats seeking re-election.

Either the Medicare cuts will take effect or they will be postponed by a terrified Congress.

If they take effect, physicians’ fees will be slashed 21 percent and hospital reimbursements for Medicare patients will be cut by $1.3 billion. Tens of thousands of doctors and thousands of health care institutions – hospitals, hospices, outpatient clinics and such – will refuse to treat Medicare patients.

Entire cities will be without one doctor in important specialties who will take care of the elderly on Medicare. Particularly in fields like G.I. care or arthritic and joint pain, doctors will simply refuse to accept the low reimbursement rates they are being offered and hospitals will refuse all but emergency care to Medicare patients. In effect, the elderly will experience a doctors’ strike against Medicare patients.

Congress, faced with this massive revolt coming right on the verge of the election, may back down and postpone the cuts. Originally, doctor reimbursement rates were scheduled to drop on March 1 of this year, but Congress postponed it until the fall. Now the Democrats in Congress will face not only cuts in doctors’ fees but in all forms of Medicare reimbursement – the so-called “market basket” of cuts programmed into Obamacare.

Congress, being Congress, will probably seek to postpone the cuts until after Election Day. But in doing so, they would expose the deficit reduction and cost containment features of Obama’s bill for the fraud that they are. The news media headlines would blare that Congress just voted to add tens or hundreds of billions to the deficit and the big spending, high borrowing image of Congress will worsen. All pretense that Obamacare is not a reckless spending bill will be stripped away and we will be face to face with the reality that it will add hugely to the deficit.

All this will come at precisely the time that House and Senate Democrats are scrambling to rebut the attacks of their Republican challengers over these very issues. If Congress votes to postpone the Medicare cuts, as a former Secretary of HHS predicted to, they will have to answer for their fiscal irresponsibility right before the election.

Either poison – the cuts or the deficit – will be enough to eradicate an entire generation of House and Senate Democrats.

Mar 26, 2010 12:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
feverhost wrote:
… and you could be completely wrong, and everything you just said will never happen.

Gotta love opinions, huh? Everyone has them…

Mar 27, 2010 3:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” host David Gregory asked a panel about critics who “would say one of the things that he’s done is expand the role of government, the size of government.” Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin claimed, “That’s what he ran for the presidency in the first place for.”

Perplexed about complaints over Mr. Obama’s expansion of government, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham asked: “does no one listen during campaigns?”

It was these pundits who weren’t paying attention during last year’s campaign. In all three presidential debates, Mr. Obama promised to cut government spending and reduce the size of the deficit. He blamed the economic crisis on excessive deficits. At no time did candidate Barack Obama say that more deficit-spending was the solution.

Mr. Obama’s popularity is the second-lowest for a simple reason: He is more partisan and divisive than his predecessors – including Richard Nixon

Mar 27, 2010 4:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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