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Health care reform bill finally backed by Ben Nelson

Jenny Decker RN's picture

The Democrats may just pass their health care reform bill by Christmas, a nice Christmas gift and end of the year win for President Obama. Announced Saturday, Ben Nelson, Senator from Nebraska, has decided to back the health care reform bill. In order for the Democrats to stop the Republican filibuster, they needed 60 votes. Ben Nelson provides that 60th vote in what has been called an accomplishment of historic proportions and importance.

Ben Nelson only agreed to back the bill on certain conditions. After hours of meetings on Friday with Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, an agreement was reached. The main issue that Ben Nelson wanted to clear up was that if he backed the health care reform bill, no federal funds would be used for abortions. Another part of the deal was that Nebraska would receive 100 percent funding for it’s Medicaid program. Senator Ben Nelson made it clear that if any of the provisions were changed, he would not vote for the health care reform bill, writes Forbes.

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The health care reform bill has been projected to cost $87 billion per year over the next ten years. The hope is to expand coverage to nearly 30 million uninsured and underinsured Americans. As a result, it has been projected to reduce the economic deficit by $132 billion over the next ten years, writes The Atlantic.

The widow of Senator Edward Kennedy, Vicki Kennedy, wrote to the Washington Post that the health care reform bill would fulfill her husband’s goals finally, even though the bill is imperfect. She goes on, “I humbly ask his colleagues to finish the work of his life, the work of generations, to allow the vote to go forward and to pass health care reform now. As Ted always said, ‘when it’s finally done, the people will wonder what took so long.’”

Republicans are far from happy about the change of events. They will use every legislative tool in the book to stall the vote. For example, they want to have the amendment to the bill read aloud on the Senate floor. This is a process that could take several hours, write Reuter’s. In response, Harry Reid will move to cut off any debate on the amendment. He has placed a self-imposed deadline, Christmas day, for passing the bill, writes the Christian Science Monitor.

The first procedural vote may take place as early as 1 am Eastern time on Monday morning. As a show of determination for the Democrats, this may very well be the most important vote in a line of 3 procedural votes before the final passage of the health care reform bill. It is possible the Senate may pass the health care reform bill by Harry Reid’s self-imposed deadline for the final vote.