Passage of House Bill Marks Health Care Milestone

What does the passage in the House mean for Democrats, health care reform, and abortion?

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Saturday night, the House of Representatives passed the Democratic health care reform bill by 220 votes to 215. With health care reform front and center since the summer, there is no question that passage in the House is a momentous step, although a fight still lies ahead in the Senate. The weekend leaves some lingering questions: Does the tight vote and the desertion of 39 Democrats signal trouble to come? How would the successful passage of health care affect Republicans ? Many liberal pundits see a defeat in the eleventh-hour ban on abortion funding, and are wondering if it spells trouble for abortion rights. Here are five opinions on the implications of the House vote:

  • Vote Not as Close as it Looked  Liberal blogger Steve Benen says that even though the bill just barely got the 218 votes needed to pass--only two votes to spare--it would be incorrect to assume that "House leadership struggled to keep the caucus together. From what I hear," writes Benen, "that's not what happened." Instead, Representative Pelosi, once sure she had the votes needed to pass the bill, told the "center-right Dems" from "'red' districts" to "go ahead and break ranks," to relieve some of the pressure on them from constituents.
  • Conservatism Not Going Anywhere  Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse notices that a number of liberals have "speculated that the passage of national health care reform would mean the death of conservatism." Moran is supremely unconvinced: "If communism couldn't be killed by it's [sic] massive internal contradictions," he argues, "I hardly think conservatism is in danger of going the way of the Dodo bird because national health insurance has become a reality."
  • Abortion Supporters Are Angry  Jon Walker at Firedoglake is livid about the Democrats who voted for the "Stupak anti-abortion amendment" on the bill. The amendment, he says, "would effectively ban insurance companies from selling insurance plans that cover elective abortion on the individual and small group market." That would make it "one of the most far reaching national restriction[s] placed on abortion in decades," and could be seen as legalizing discrimination "against low income Americans" for whom the amendment would have the most effect.
Abortion would be the only legal medical procedure that the bill would ban insurance companies from covering ... By voting for the amendment, 64 Democrats and all but one Republican voted to put a government bureaucrat between you, your insurance provider, and your doctor ... For all the talk about small government, these representatives are more than happy to give the government more power as long as it is used to restrict a woman’s right to choose.
  • This May Change Our Relationship with Government, predicts Greg Sargent at The Plum Line. He thinks that's a good thing. He admits it's "anything but assured that the bill will become law, and if so, whether the public will judge it a success in the long run. Either a short or long-term failure could spark a severe political backlash." Still, "[t]he vote puts Dems within striking distance of an achievement that could rewrite the relationship Americans have with government and deal a serious blow to the anti-government ideology that has done so much to define our politics for at least a generation."
  • Big Problems Ahead, conservative David Frum warns Democrats, seeing somewhat more of a risk for backlash than does Sargent: "Not only does the Senate loom ahead, but so does the encounter with reality." For example, he says, "Democrats assume that the health care system contains so much fat and waste that they can impose price restraints--and that providers will find ways to adjust while protecting patients." But that's not necessarily the case. He compares Democratic celebration at the bill's passage to Bush's "mission accomplished" in Iraq: "What comes next wont' be pretty."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.