November 13th, 2009
05:10 PM ET
12 years ago

Moderate Dems will determine if health care bill gets to Senate

(CNN) - The House squeaked out its version of health care reform and now President Obama is putting pressure on the Senate to do the same so he can sign a bill before the end of the year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he hopes to start debate next week on whether to send his bill to the floor. The Congressional Budget Office is appraising components of Reid's legislation.

But a handful of moderate Democrats might determine whether Reid's bill is debated.

Republicans are basically united in opposition to Reid's plan. With 60 votes needed to start debate on the legislation, Reid needs all 58 of the Democrats in the Senate and the two independents who caucus with them to vote his way.

Time is ticking away on reaching Obama's goal. Democrats are already doubtful that they'll be able to reach it.

The Senate will have a week to get its bill to the floor before it begins its traditional break for Thanksgiving, although some tell CNN that they could stay in the capital the early part of the week before breaking for the holiday.

That leaves the early part of December before they break again for the holidays at the end of the month.

That leaves little time to reconcile differences within the Senate before resolving differences between whatever emerges from the Senate and the House bill.

To secure the votes of anti-abortion Democrats, House Democratic leaders passed a health care bill that prohibits abortion coverage in a
government-sponsored plan and in private plans that accept anyone using government subsidies to buy insurance coverage.

In the Senate, Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, said he would vote against any bill without those restrictions. But abortion rights Democrats, including many of the 17 Senate women, may object.

For now, Nelson said he hasn't decided whether he will give his party his vote, since he hasn't seen the actual bill.

In fact, no one has seen the Senate bill.

Reid won't release the legislation until he knows the cost of the bill. He has been waiting nearly three weeks for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to return its score, or cost. Reid's aides said they expect the CBO's score any day.

Democratic strategist and CNN contributor James Carville said while he thinks the Senate can move health care legislation forward, it needs an assist from President Obama.

"You know, these votes come right down to the end, and there's a lot of negotiations going, there's a lot of things that happen," he said on CNN's "The Situation Room. "I think that they can get to 57 or so. I think the president is going to have to come to the Hill again. ... He's going to have to do a lot, a lot, a lot of arm wrestling, and he's going to have to get down in the trenches here. This is going to be a tough deal."

Obama on November 7 met behind closed doors with House Democrats to shore up support for their health care bill, which passed on a 220-215 vote. One Republican, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana, supported the bill. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against it.

But Obama left Thursday for a weeklong trip to Asia, so any in-person pushes from him will have to wait.

Asked when Reid hopes the legislation will get to the president, Rodell Mollineau, one of Reid's top communication staffers, said, "our goals remain unchanged."

"We want to get health insurance reform done this year, and we have unprecedented momentum to achieve that."

- CNN's Dana Bash, Kristi Keck and John Helton contributed to this report

Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Adalbert

    These people must understand that we need HC reform in this country with a strong public option.

    November 13, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. victim of republican greed

    It has to be hard for Sen Nelson of Nebraska to support something for the American people when he gets so much money from the insurance industry.

    November 13, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. diridi

    what is this new names, confusing public??? I donot care whether moderate or bluge dog...or blue cat...they need to pass this much needed health care with public option....listen, for competition we need public option...tell these things to REPUBLICAN more argument....writer is very shrewd...and educated....ok...

    November 13, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  4. victim of republican greed

    Give 'em hell, Harry! Get this done.

    November 13, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. Baby Boomer

    It just goes all over me that first of all, none of the Senators in my state will be voting in favor of health care reform and secondly, that some Senator from another state (like Arkansas) could block reform for me here in Georgia too.

    I say just put the opt out provision in the bill. That way when those moderate Democratic Senators ruin the unemployed or under employed people in their states chances for getting proper medical attention by opting out of health care reform, they can vote them out of office when the next election comes around.

    But don't make the entire country suffer...

    November 13, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  6. mjm

    Doctor's got word today that Medicare is cutting reimbursement by 30% in 2010. The cost of doing business is still the same, but Medicare will pay less.

    That’s how the government run health care will go. Do the same work, just don’t expect to get paid.

    Considering Medicare fees are already 66% below the usual and customary fee schedule for regional medical fees....I'd say doctors are screwed.

    Can't wait to see what the public option reimbursement schedule is like

    November 13, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. mjm

    "Reid won't release the legislation until he knows the cost of the bill."


    $10 says it over a trillion.

    November 13, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  8. DJ

    Public option or nothing

    November 13, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. m jeff

    Healthcare without the Public Option will not be reformed.

    November 13, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. Robin

    How about the part where it says if you don't purchase healthcare, you can be fined and jailed? Love that part.

    November 13, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  11. terry,va

    There aren't as many fools in the Senate as in the House. The bill will not pass. People that need health care coverage should go in the government plan (Medicaid). Leave the rest of us alone Obummie.

    November 13, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. Beverly in NC

    Moderate Democrats better make sure healthcare not only gets on the Senate floor but is passed quickly with a strong public option to provide the critical competition required to rein in the greed-based insurance industry.

    ANY Senator who votes against real reform with the public option WILL LOSE their seat come re-election time. Democrats are going to work against any Democrat who betrays us. If Democrats are going to deliver any meaningful legislation then we will NOTdeliver you votes or any more funding.

    We voted for change. We voted for healthcare reform, new energy technologies, climate change protection, and the ending of the disatrous Bush wars.

    We did our part and now it time for the Democratic Party to do yours.

    My husband's company insurance company just raised our premium rates for next year by 40%!!!! And some of you don't think these greed machines don't need solid, stiff competition to stop their abuses????

    Give us a STRONG PUBLIC OPTION THAT ANY AMERICAN CAN CHOOSE OVER THEIR PRIVATE INSURER!! It is the only way costs will be lowered, quality of care increased and random denial of valid claims stopped.

    The People may not be able to buy your votes like the insurance industry can – BUT – we can certainly use our VOTE to remove from office if you don't deliver healthcare NOW.

    November 13, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. Disgusted Democrat

    i am sick of being dunned constantly for money by the DSCC only to get these lousy results. If these losers can't pass the health care everyone needs, the party gets none of my money - I'll donate directly to candidates who will make the changes the MAJORITY wants.

    November 13, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Tommygunn

    It's going forward.

    The MODERATE DEMOCRATs are the KEY PEOPLE to be REPLACE if IT DOESN'T!!! They are the ONES SHOWING WEAKNESS on the Democratic Ticket.

    The bill is reasonable, just make sure it fits the BUDGET EXPECTATIONs and don't loose sight of the BILL #1 intent. The distractions of ABORTION, DEATH PANELS, ALIEN INSURERs and TAXes haven't changed....


    November 13, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. Four and The Door

    What we will end up with is not an efficient, well planned out health care system based on patient needs or cost effectiveness. It will be a jumble of political compromises based on back room deals.
    There are better ways to get everyone covered but this is so politically important for Obama, that's what Harry's marching orders are. I don't think that is a great reason to spend $1 trillion and then make a more expensive system for everyone from now on.

    November 13, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. indiana voter


    The DINO's are the only Democrats with any common sense and intelligence... something you wouldn't understand.

    November 13, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. GOPBslapper

    The Truth is that it will go through the Senate no matter what the GOP or Media do to spin it otherwise.
    Keep in mind, just 30 days ago the Republicans and the media said the Public Option was dead.
    So we know they haven't got a clue, but they just love those sound bites!

    November 13, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Jeremy-Dallas-Tx

    I am a small scale Tech producer for Semi-conductor company right here at Dallas. I got 18 people working for me with Medical benefits. Yes,there is room for 5 more to cover growing demand but healthcare cost is fast draining me plus am not the type to take loans. If this bill is NOT passed,my option is to relocate to Mexico/Laredo and export same to Dallas. Call me unpatriotic but I better serve my interest just like our leaders do in the House. I PROMISE THAT.

    November 13, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. FL

    When almost half the country doesn't want gov't controlled health care, how can you claim that a few people from the religious right are stopping this, Sniffit? Half the country isn't a few people.

    We need health care reform, we just don't need the country to go bankrupt providing it. There are much more viable options than starting another gov't program to suck the country dry. Reform what already exists, which by the way offers coverage to ALL Americans in one form or another through health departments, medicaid, and public hospitals being required by law to treat people, even if they can't pay. Cut down the fraud in the current system and expand what exists. Cap the amount people can sue for in malpractice suits.

    November 13, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  20. mjm

    diridi...........If you were educated you would know what the term Blue Dog meant. It's only been around for decades.

    Clinton was considered a Blue Dog, aka fiscal conservative.

    If you were educated, you would know that 1300 + 1 does not equal competition.

    If you were educated you would know that NOBODY competes with the Federal government.

    How would the insurance industry compete against the government when the government regulates the insurance industry, can operate without making a profit and charge (tax) individuals who are not their customers $26000-$50000 (at least) to pay for their overhead?

    If you were'd be a Republican.

    November 13, 2009 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  21. dave

    As a Canadian I am sick and tired of the way our Health Care system is being betrayed on American media. How can you go on deriding our system when ,first 70% of us are happy with our healthcare. Second, we have a longer life expectancy than Americans. Third we spend about half what you spend per person on healthcare. Fourth health care costs are a lower % of our GNP than in the USA. Finally we have a lower maximum tax rate than in the USA. Yes we have a single payer system and yes we pay more in taxes to support it, but given the alternatives it is a very good system. As a matter of a fact it has been proven by polls that should it be necessary, we would gladly pay more in taxes to better it… it’s not perfect by any means, but what system is. It is certainly much better than what you guys currently have. You have so, so many of your citizens going bankrupt because they cannot afford their medical bills. It is a true shame that you are the only country I believe, in the industrialized world that cannot provide universal health care for your citizens. It really all comes down to money, profit and power from the insurance companies. They are scared as hell to loose all that money and they are lobbying their Republican representatives very, very hard to veto any plans your president has.
    I have been a recipient of our universal health care numerous times over the last 12 years. I needed a heart bypass 12 years ago and I was operated on in a matter of 4 days. I checked into the hospital, received my operation and was taken care of after the operation by some amazing nurses in the hospital and it didn’t cost me one cent. I have been back a few times since and because of our triage system in the hospitals I am seen immediately due to my past heart history. Two years ago I needed a shunt in one of my arteries, this again was done immediately and again it cost me nothing. Contrary to reports in the USA we have complete freedom to choose our family doctor and should we need to see a specialist our family doctor will suggest one. If for some reason we would like a second opinion on any subject we are completely free to choose who we will go.

    November 13, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  22. Joan

    These moderate Democrats will really pay for it if they cause health care reform to fail. They will go down in history as the spoilers and will probably cause the Democrats to lose their majority in the house. They need to think about this very carefully. They could be on the wrong side of history.

    November 13, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  23. Barbara Independent in NY

    Moderate Dems? Call them what they really are–Republicans. If these "moderate Dems" fail the American people, their pictures should be plastered on billboards all over America with the caption" We care more about the Insurance cartel than we care about our constituents". They are beneath contempt.

    November 13, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  24. Willy Brown

    it will but it will be stop in 2010

    November 13, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  25. Terry from West Texas

    mjm wrote: "Doctor's got word today that Medicare is cutting reimbursement by 30% in 2010. The cost of doing business is still the same, but Medicare will pay less. That’s how the government run health care will go. Do the same work, just don’t expect to get paid.
    Considering Medicare fees are already 66% below the usual and customary fee schedule for regional medical fees....I'd say doctors are screwed. Can't wait to see what the public option reimbursement schedule is like"

    mjm is complaining that medicare – a government run health care program brought to you courtesy of Lyndon Johnson, Liberalism, and BIG GOVERNMENT – will be hurt because the government doesn't know how to administer a health program. He also feels some compassion for the poor physicians who will not be paid enough. He does not, apparently, worry much about poor people who cannot afford preventative care, treatment for chronic conditions, pre-natal care, birth control, et cetera.

    I want my physician to be a happy guy, but I suspect that his life is not as bad as all that, when contrasted with the gal who took your order at the last burger place you visited. Now of course, she could save up her money and get a PhD in economics and earn a few million a year and so could you. But, she has a kid, an ex-husband who moved out of state to avoid paying $200 a month child support (she lives in Texas), a 1996 Ford Aspire with bald tires, and her electric bill is two months past due. And she doesn't know it, but the burger chain is going to close that store for remodeling next month. She will be told the day before they close.

    November 13, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
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