St. Louis Congressman Lacy Clay says he’s so proud of Congress for approving major health care legislation while St. Louis area Congressman Todd Akin calls the legislation the worst bill he’s ever seen. Such wide ranging sentiment about the health care overhaul bill to be signed today by President Obama epitomizes the split between Democrats and Republicans as well as the emotion attached to the legislation and the process it took to passage.
The United States House in a rare Sunday session in Washington approved the bill 219-212. The Missouri delegation voted against it. Republicans Todd Akin, Sam Graves, Roy Blunt, Jo Ann Emerson and Blaine Luetkemeyer were joined by Democrat Ike Skelton in voting against the bill. Democrats William “Lacy” Clay, Russ Carnahan and Emanuel Cleaver voted for the bill. Skelton was one of 34 Democrats voting against it. No Republicans voted for the legislation.
Congressman Clay tells the Missourinet that the bill sets health care coverage on a different trajectory. He says it will make America healthier. Congressman Carnahan joined Clay in praising the bill, stating that it will make the United States more competitive. He countered Republican criticism of the bill as anti-business by arguing that a healthier workforce will be a more productive workforce.
That line of thinking is soundly rejected by Republicans in the Missouri delegation. Congressman Akin says the bill is full of false promises that will increase the budget deficit and reduce the quality of health care. The potential cost of the bill concerns both Congressman Blunt and Congresswoman Emerson, who worry that the actual cost of the bill will greatly exceed the estimates and that the savings contemplated in the bill will not be realized. Congressman Luetkemeyer says the abortion language in the bill is a problem and he says questions remain about the bill’s constitutionality, because of its mandate to purchase health insurance. Congressman Graves tells the Missourinet that the bill has “taken the United States down the road to becoming a European … entitlement, or a socialistic democracy.”
The Missourinet contacted the offices of each member of the state Congressional delegation, requesting interviews. Seven of the nine members talk to us about the health care bill. Listen to their audio posted at the end of this story.
The president plans to sign the legislation into law today, choosing not to wait for the Senate to deal with a package of revisions also approved by the House Sunday. Those revisions are meant to address concerns the House had with the bill that Democratic leaders decided couldn’t survive another trip to the Senate since the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts punctured the Democrats’ filibuster-proof majority.
The bill has an estimated $940 billion price tag. It purports to reform the nation’s $2.5 trillion health-care system. The White House says President Obama will use the signing ceremony to promote the benefits of the bill to a skeptical public and to bridge the divide split open by harshly partisan rhetoric during debate on the bill as well as, at times, rowdy behavior by opponents who protested outside the Capitol in Washington, D. C.
The extraordinary route the bill took to passage began on Christmas Eve when the Senate approved the measure. The bill will spend $875 billion during the next decade to expand insurance coverage. Major changes won’t go into effect until 2014. The bill expands Medicaid, managed by the states, by an estimated 16 million people. An estimated 24 million who cannot obtain affordable insurance now will become eligible for tax credits to buy insurance on new state-based exchanges.Medicare also will change under the bill.