The House is going to have a historic vote on health care. Every member will be recorded, by name, on whether to pass health care reform or scuttle it. If a majority in the House vote to pass it, it passes.

And this is tricky, or dead-of-night, or undemocratic why?

(Apparently, the Republicans have used “deem and pass” 200 times in the last 15 years, so it’s not a completely novel approach.)

With any luck, legislation will be signed into law before Easter and the health care reform behemoth will finally start to move. It is much easier to steer something – and build momentum – once it’s moving.

Additional legislation will undoubtedly follow. (Sooner or later, there should be a public option. And authority to negotiate drug prices. And wouldn’t it be nice if the capacity of V.A. hospitals were steadily expanded? Perhaps with a lottery allowing a certain number of veterans’ spouses and offspring to buy in each year? The V.A. offers cost-effective government health care that people seem to think works quite well.)

But in the meantime, consider the efforts we may see coming from bright Health & Human Services regulators committed to progress – from cracking down on fraud (who among us would not like to see that?) to rolling out pilot programs that prove themselves. The bill is chock full of promising pilot programs for more efficient care.

Once the bill does pass, many Americans are going to start seeing things they like, even before pilot programs have time to prove themselves and roll out.

Rachel Maddow provides the expected timetable: For example, shortly after passage it will become illegal to deny kids coverage for pre-existing conditions. Adults will have to wait until 2014 for that protection, but will at least get access to new high-risk insurance pools. Kids will be able to stay on their parents’ plans through age 26. Lifetime limits will disappear; likewise, insurers’ ability to cancel your policy when you get sick. Starting January 1, Medicare patients will qualify for free annual wellness visits. And insurers will be required to pay out at least 80% or 85% of premiums (depending on the number of people covered by the plan) in actual health care reimbursements. Customers of insurers who pay out less will get rebates.


That Employee of the Church of Christ: “If you really believe Al Qaeda is evil incarnate, why do you talk and act and vote as if Cheney et al are evil incarnate? You focus all your efforts on vilifying those who you believe may have crossed the line dealing with the perpetrators, while you spend no effort on those that you declare to be ‘evil incarnate.’ That is at least way off base, if not evil as well. The true evil (as opposed to partisan enthusiasm) in all this is that I followed your advice on FMD but not on GLDD. Sigh.”

☞ Sigh, indeed. There’s something we agree on. Sorry about that. As to the rest . . . C’mon, have you been out with signs vilifying Al-Qaeda? What would be the point? Who needs persuading of this? You’re not soft on Al-Qaeda, you just know we already all agree. Same with me. If I thought I had even a single reader who needed persuading that Al-Qaeda is the enemy, I would rail against Al-Qaeda daily.

My thrust has simply been that Cheney is wrong (I don’t think I’ve ever called him evil) . . . that the way to defeat terrorism is not to play into Al-Qaeda’s hands by invading Iraq or by humiliating prisoners in Abu Ghraib or by torturing them when many experts think traditional interrogation methods are more effective.

(Question: in your view, was the waterboarding we were doing torture?)

Mike Martin: “I had to point out one little omission in your torture story. The biggest reason we should not torture is that when enemy soldiers or terrorists are cornered, you can forget about capturing them if they know they are going to be tortured. They are likely to either fight to the finish or do some suicidal response. I have an acquaintance who was in psyops in Vietnam. It was his job to talk Viet Cong into surrendering, often from tunnels and caves where it was very dangerous to try and get to them. Because we had a reputation for treating prisoners well, they were more inclined to surrender. We were able to interrogate those who did give up and retrieve valuable information. As a former Marine, I don’t want to go into battles when I can get the enemy to give up. The people who believe in torture have no conception of military reality. Torture results in Americans dying. There is no other way to put it.”

Matt Ball: “In WW II, the Japanese homeland was under attack. Thousands were being killed every day. Yet the US determined that Japanese waterboarding was torture and executed those who did the torture. Meanwhile, this is worth a link, for those who assume anyone we abuse had it coming.”


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