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Smith warming to health care, Baird still undecided

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on March 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm with 12 Comments »
March 19, 2010 9:55 am

More from our D.C. guy, Les Blumenthal:

WASHINGTON – With pressure mounting and a weekend vote likely, Washington Rep. Adam Smith was apparently edging closer to endorsing Democratic health care legislation Thursday.

Smith’s movement came after the Congressional Budget Office said it would cut the federal deficit by $138 billion over 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the following decade if approved.

“I think the CBO numbers are positive,” the Tacoma Democrat said in a statement.

Meanwhile, even after a lengthy Oval Office meeting with President Obama, Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver, remained undecided.

“Nothing has changed,” said Adam Hudson, a Baird spokesman.

Baird, who is not seeking re-election, was being lobbied from as far away as the Washington state capital in Olympia.

In a letter, two legislative committee chairman urged him to support the measure.

“This has been a decade in the making,” said Democratic Sen. Karen Keiser and Democratic Rep. Eileen Cody.

“The opportunity is not coming our way again soon. Washington state needs the assistance that federal reform will bring in controlling the increasing fiscal impact of health care.”

Keiser chairs the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee. Cody chairs the House Health and Wellness Committee.

“With exponential costs projected, we cannot not afford to wait before making fundamental changes in our health care system,” they wrote.

The four other Democrats in the Washington state delegation are expected to support the bill, while the state’s three Republican House members will vote no.

Democratic leaders were closing in on the 216 votes needed to pass the measure, but they were still short. Democrats control 253 House seats.

Both Smith and Baird are considered fiscal hawks and have been concerned about the impact health care reform would have on the federal deficit.

“These numbers demonstrate that this bill will not only help reduce costs in the short term, but also help to reduce overall long term health care costs,” Smith said of the CBO numbers.

Baird has reportedly woken up in the middle of the night to read the Senate version of the health care bill, which the House is being asked to pass. Last week, he said he wouldn’t make up his mind until he had read everything.
Baird’s trip to the Oval Office on Tuesday was his first in his 12 years in office.

At the White House on Thursday, President Obama, for a second time, delayed his departure on a trip to Asia. Obama was originally supposed to leave Thursday and then Sunday. Now the White House says he’ll visit Indonesia and Australia in June.

House Democratic leaders on Thursday rolled out a series of changes to the bill that both the House and the Senate will eventually have to approve. Among other things, the changes would end the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole” and pick up all of the state’s costs of an expanded Medicaid system from 2014 to 2017. After that the federal support would gradually be reduced to 90 percent by 2020.

The changes would also scale back a new excise tax on high-end insurance policies and expand the reach of the Medicare’s payroll tax to cover wealthier people’s unearned income.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. Smith might be warming to health care reform and the Washington State ‘Taxpayers’ should become down-right ‘hot’ when they get their bill for funding shortages within Washington State MEDICAID DSH REDUCTIONS—for example, H.R. 4872, at 77, SEC. 1704. REDUCTION IN MEDICAID DSH (4)(b)(1):

    IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall reduce Medicaid DSH so as to reduce total Federal payments to all States for such purpose by $1,500,000,000 in fiscal year 2017, $2,500,000,000 in fiscal year 2018, and $6,000,000,000 in fiscal year 2019.

    Any guess Smith, just-who is going to be making-up these funds shortages . . . not paid by federal government . . . just maybe ‘Taxpayers’? What do you think? You might just be smart enough to tell us all as your ‘warming-up’ your thinking.

  2. the3rdpigshouse says:

    Smith the Socialist has always been in the bag for dictatorial socialized healthcare – and if the ignorant Washington State electorate wakes up he will be looking for a private sector job come reelection time!!!
    If Baird goes the same route, he should also be fired!!!!

  3. Good for Congressman Smith.

    He’s held countless town halls, listened to long, draw-out debate, and had to endure some rather tense accusations.

    But he handled each with dignity and respect. They told him he should read the bill before he voted on it.

    I checked with his staff: he’s read every page of the bill.

    He was told the process has been way too short, but it’s gone on for longer than a year. The other day on the Dave Ross show, Congressman Smith acknowledged that this debate is the longest one he’s witnessed.

    If nothing is done, health care costs will continue to outstrip pay increases. Personally, I’ve seen annual rates go up 10, 15, even 23 percent over the past 10 years … it impacts individual pocketbooks, private business pocketbooks and the collective pocketbooks of our city, county and state.

    Congressman Smith is a dedicated public servant, and thankfully he has not taken this issue lightly.

  4. Good for Congressman Smith! It’s refreshing to see him make up his mind in favor of reform. Finally something is going to happen.

    Lets see if Congressman Baird feels the same way after all his reading.

    We have been waiting for healthcare, and we are ready for it. Lets get it done.

  5. PrincipalSkinner says:

    I’m glad he’s making an educated decision. I’ve seen health care rates skyrocket, and it’s about time we vote for health care reform. Good for Congressman Adam Smith!

  6. Has Adam Smith never read the Constitution? Article One Section 7 outlines the only manner in which bills are passed into law. Article 1 Section 8 describes the enumerated powers of Congress and taking over your health care isn’t one of those powers. According to the 10th Amendment, health-care is a power relegated to the many states. Adam Smith is not listening to his constituents and he is about to trample on our Constitution. This Bill Must Be Killed.

  7. webtimes22 says:

    While Adam still says he is undecided, it is only, in my opinion, to get some kind of deal, like a ride on Air Force One or maybe a family member appointed to a board. When either side does this it stinks. I keep my fingers crossed and hope this will lead to rules changes to improve transparancy and accountability in D.C. (not holding my breath though).

  8. webtimes22 says:

    DannyG and Neal SR.

    You do not seem to understand the Senate Bill and this “Deem and Pass” House “fix” still do not truly reform health care. They simply perpetuate the inefficiencies in the insurance sector by subsidizing them with our tax dollars. Further they tax us for 10 years to provide 6 years of “reform”. What is needed is true competition by removing state to state barriers (actually authorized under the commerce clause), no “Cadillac” mandates but true self selection of coverage and some kind of tort reform that keeps parties responsible on all sides and ends obscene “windfall profits” for contingency representation. Oh yeah, how about the same tax benefits for you and me the same as GM get or Boeing or Microsoft gets when paying for our own healthcare coverage?

  9. geisttoo2 says:

    I’m putting my money were my mouth is and contributing to Dick Muri. It’s time to vote the democrats out of office and work towards smaller government.

  10. webtimes22 says:

    Listen to Dick Muri youself at the link below:


  11. randydutton says:

    The CBO numbers are a fraud.

    They double count the Medicare savings.
    They don’t compare 10 years of service with 10 years of cost.
    They don’t include the inclusion of 12+ million illegals the progressives plan on legalizing.
    The CBO relied upon the assumptions the progressives fed them.

    The New England Journal of Medicine said 1/3 of all doctors will retire if this goes through. The health care bill will give priority training for affirmative action medical staff rather than merit based.

  12. You have to love the US Congress. They’re gonna increase taxes and drop our salaries. What do you think businesses are going to do when their expense per employee goes up?

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