SIIA Legislative Update - Healthcare Reform
December 3, 2009
Information Disclaimer Note: Congressional developments regarding health care reform are fluid and SIIA lobbyists are continually meeting with Members of Congress, key staff members and other industry stakeholders, which generate ongoing intelligence. In order to keep our members informed in "real time", we will report relevant information as we become aware of it. Given that the political process is inherently unpredictable, information communicated in previous reports may be superseded in subsequent reports. Should you have any questions in between reports, please contact SIIA's Washington, DC office directly at 202/463-8161.
Senate Healthcare Reform Update
The Senate has begun the process of debating its healthcare reform package that was introduced by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) just before Thanksgiving. The process commenced with introductory debate and has now moved to consideration of amendments. Voting on amendments will begin this afternoon and continue until there is a cloture agreement or until the Majority Leader calls for a cloture vote, which if passed, would end debate and move the bill to a final passage vote.
Through high-level discussions with contacts on and off Capitol Hill, SIIA's Government Relations Staff can provide the following real-time insight. The Senate Majority Leader is still negotiating with Democrat Senators in an effort to obtain the necessary 60 votes - which we have been told he currently does not have. The Senate will likely have its first cloture vote to end debate as early as the middle of next week. It is likely the Majority Leader will not have 60 votes to pass cloture to end the debate. At some point after that vote, the Majority Leader will introduce a "Manager's Amendment" that will contain all the provisions he has negotiated with Senators whose vote he's courting. As amendments need 60 votes to be passed, a vote on the Manager's Amendment will gage if the bill has the necessary support or if the Majority Leader needs to continue negotiating. This process could continue until either the Majority Leader can piece together a bill that can garner 60 votes, or he decides to pull the bill altogether.
SIIA's summary of the Senate Healthcare Reform Bill has been added to our Grassroots Toolkit and can be viewed by clicking here.
Negotiations Continue Over Government-Run Health Plan
SIIA's Government Relations Staff have been informed by numerous high-level sources that the proposed structure for a government-run health plan currently included in the Senate's bill does not have the necessary 60 votes needed for passage. As reported, the current government-run plan proposal would have a government-run health insurance option that would be available in each of the proposed State insurance exchange, except in those States who proactively opt to exclude the government-plan as an option in their exchange.
Majority Leader Reid has tapped Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) to develop compromise language for the inclusion of a government-run plan. Senator Carper is working with Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a strong advocate for a robust government-run plan and Senator Mary Landrieu, a moderate with concerns with the current language. SIIA Staff have learned that the compromise they are working around would have a government-run plan available in States that lack "affordable" coverage options. It would also allow States to proactively offer the government plan as an option in their exchange. The goal of the working group is to have language released by early next week.
SIIA Urges the Self-Insurance Industry to Make our Message Heard
SIIA urges all those in the self-insurance industry interested in preserving the way we do business and the benefits we provide to 75 million Americans covered by self-insured plans, to use the resources provided in SIIA's Grassroots Toolkit and contact their Members of Congress to voice our message.
The threat to the self-insurance industry and the employer-based system under which we operate in has never been more significant. Now is the time to voice our powerful and unified voice to politicians in Washington that we will not stand for any proposals that would cause significant damage to our industry and to those lives we cover.
SIIA's Grassroots Toolkit can be found at www.siia.org/grassroots. If you have any questions, or would like any further information, please contact SIIA's Government Relations office.
Join SIIA and Let Your Voice Be Heard
SIIA's 24th Annual Legislative and Regulatory Conference, March 10th-12th in Washington, DC is your opportunity to hear directly from the policy-makers and experience the political process first hand. Participate in SIIA's popular "Walk on Capitol Hill" and let your voice be heard! For more information click here or call SIIA's Government Relations office.