First, a good write about reconciliation totally in line with our release from Friday. Salon:
[T]hough you wouldn’t know it from listening to Republicans, reconciliation is not some loophole that somehow gets around a constitutional requirement that legislation pass with 60 votes. There’s no such requirement; until the GOP started threatening filibusters against just about everything the Senate did (setting themselves on pace for a new record in the process), bills routinely passed with 51 votes, the same number that a reconciliation measure will require. And the reconciliation process has a long history in the Senate.
But the biggest way Republicans are winning the early spin war is by making it sound like the entire healthcare bill would be passed with “only” a 51-vote majority, instead of the 60 votes the GOP insists are required. In fact, the Senate has already passed a healthcare reform bill, with 60 votes. And the House has already passed a bill, as well. The only thing Democrats plan to use reconciliation for is to enact changes to the bills that already went through the usual process. And most of those changes are things everyone — Republicans and Democrats alike — would agree make the bill better.
“Reconciliation isn’t subjective; there’s actually facts to back up the fact that it’s not controversial,” said Jacki Schechner, a spokeswoman for the group. “Democrats should be talking more about what it is and the extent to which it should be used.”
Then last night, the WSJ comes out with this from WellPoint CEO Angela Braly on soaring premiums (emphasis mine):
WellPoint Inc. Chief Executive Angela Braly is facing her biggest test yet as the nation’s largest health insurer comes under fire for its plans to raise rates as much as 39% in California.
So far, Ms. Braly has chosen to fight back. Instead of issuing a Toyota-style apology, she is turning her critics’ argument around, citing rising health-care costs driven by doctors and hospitals, which she says aren’t addressed by the current health-overhaul bills.
Investors said they are relieved that the company is standing by the increases. Without them, Ms. Braly argues, the company can’t break even in the risky business of selling insurance to individuals, which has become more difficult as the economy has caused healthier people to forgo buying the policies.
She’s full of it. We’re releasing a report at 11:30am today that will show just how full of it she is. I’ll have a link up here when it’s public. UPDATE: Here’s the link to the press release, a recording of the conference call, and the report.
Politico’s got two HCAN stories today. One on the AHIP conference next week and the letter we sent to friends and allies asking that they not participate:
Health Care for America Now sent letters Monday to speakers invited to serve as panelists at America’s Health Insurance Plan’s annual meeting next Tuesday, urging them to pull out. “The insurance industry has been engaged in a duplicitous and cynical campaign around health reform, fueling the congressional deadlock,” says the letter signed by Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager for HCAN, a group that favors comprehensive health care reform. “We must stand in their way, not legitimize their voice.”
HCAN also warned that activists from its group and a host of other pro-reform allies are planning a major protest of the event at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. “The AHIP conference will be blocked, as civic leaders, victims of insurance abuses and other engage in a mass citizen arrest” of the insurance industry, Kirsch writes.
And then Chris Frates has a good write on how we’re stepping up action to urge the President and Congress to stand with us and get the job done:
“It’s very clear to me that the president and the congressional leadership want to get this done, and what we’re going to help be is the wind behind their backs, by showing how deeply the American people want to get this done,” said HCAN’s Richard Kirsch. “Congress really has a choice when you strip everything away: if they’re going to take the side of people who can’t afford coverage or if they’re going to take the side of an industry that’s ruining people’s lives and bankrupting them.”
In other words, HCAN plans to frame the final push as a struggle between the people dying because of a desperately broken system and the insurance companies that profit from the status quo.
March 9th is fast approaching. If you want to get in on the anti-AHIP action, click here.