Despite vote, amendment narrowly passes and goes to the Senate
Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-5) voted against the so-called reconciliation bill tonight, the add-on provisions to the Senate health reform bill that he supported earlier in the evening. The add-on was approved by the House on a vote of 220-211, despite Cooper's opposition to the provision.
Cooper opposed the add-on because passage of the separate Senate bill was sufficient to ensure health care reform for all Americans. In Cooper's opinion, the add-on made health care reform more expensive than necessary. Cooper is looking forward to the President signing the Senate health reform bill that he supported into law in the next few days.
The add-on increased the size of the health care bill by $160 billion, added Medicare taxes for the first time on unearned income, included completely unrelated student loan reforms, and will prolong the divisive health reform debate for days, and possibly weeks, in the U.S. Senate. Another key issue was the fact that the add-on reduced the effectiveness of one of the primary cost-containment devices of the Senate bill by as much as 80%.
"The excise tax on health insurance plans with Ferrari-type benefits was the most powerful tool for reducing health care costs," said Cooper. "The Reconciliation bill, if approved by the Senate, could significantly reduce these cost savings."
Cooper has been consistent in preferring the Senate bill to the earlier House legislation. He has also been consistent in pressing for clear up-or-down votes on separate pieces of legislation in order to promote transparency in government. The reconciliation add-on has the effect of bulking up the Senate bill so that it looks more like the original House legislation.