Steny Hoyer: Health Vote Won't Cost Us in Nov.

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CBS
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he is confident that a vote for the health reform bill will not cost Democrats in November.

On this morning's "Early Show" Hoyer touted recent polls by the Wall Street Journal and the Economist indicating Americans support what is in the bill (48%-45% and 53%-47%, respectively).

"When you go to the individual specific provisions in this bill — eliminating pre-existing conditions from being a preclusion to getting insurance, making sure that companies can't put lifetime caps or cancel your policies when you get really sick, making sure that annually you can't be capped so you drive families into bankruptcy — when you ask people about that, and about the exchanges where you have a transparent marketplace, where you can compare prices and benefits through whole range of insurance companies so you can get the best buy, people say 60%, 70%, 80%, 'Yes, those are good provisions.'

"So I'm very confident that when this bill is passed and people review what it will do for them, their families, small businesses, and the deficit reduction, I think they'll say this is a good policy for our country," Hoyer said.

Hoyer was pleased that the Congressional Budget office's breakdown of the bill's costs and benefits — which shows the legislation would reduce the federal deficit — would appeal not only to the public but to fiscally conservative Congressional members whose support has not been already won. A vote is expected in the House this Sunday.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care Reform

He said the CBO report confirms "We are doing exactly what we said we would do, and that is adopting a program which will make health care more affordable, make insurance companies accountable, and bring down the deficit over $1.3 trillion over the next two decades. All those items are important to our Members.

"We think Members will conclude by Sunday that this is the bill that does what we said we would do, and they'll pass it."

In extolling the virtues of the bill, the top Democrat went so far as to quote Sen. John McCain, who during the 2008 campaign said that every American should have access to quality and affordable coverage of their choice — even though the Arizona Republican sent out a message to supporters yesterday stating, "We must do everything in our power to defeat this bill from becoming law."

That may still happen, given that Democrats need about 10 House members to assure passage. And there is lingering criticism over special provisions in the bill for certain states, which were to have been excluded in the most recent write-up but have survived, such as extra money for hospitals in Tennessee that serve large numbers of low-income patients.

"Speaker Pelosi went to great pains yesterday to say that this [bill] does have equality for all states now," "Early Show" anchor Maggie Rodriguez said. "There's still special spending in as many as 11 other states. What happened to the equality for all states in this bill?"

"Clearly there are provisions in the bill which take care of special circumstances," Hoyer replied. "Speaker Pelosi has said the Nebraska 'Cornhusker Provision'" — $100 million in Medicaid funds that Sen. Ben Nelson had won for his state — "was, in fact, taken out of this bill because that was clearly just targeted. And what we have done is treat all states equally in terms of federal contribution towards Medicaid payments over the coming years. So I think this bill treats all people and all states equally. Are there special provisions in there which deal with certain situations? There are, but those situations are unique."

More Coverage of the Health Care Reform Debate:

The Hunt for Health Care Votes: Democrats to Watch
Obama Deploys Personal Presidential Touch
Dem Health Care Bill Pegged at $940B Over 10 Years
Washington Unplugged: Nancy Cordes on the Final Countdown
Dueling News Conferences
Obama Cancels Foreign Trip for Health Care Push
Pelosi: Health Care Bill "Best Initiative" for the Economy
GOP Plots Ways to Fight Health Care
Obama's Health Care Plan: What Do You Think?
CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.

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