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National votes

November 14, 2009

By Votes in Congress Service

WASHINGTON - Here's how area members of Congress voted on major roll call votes in the week ending Nov. 13.

HOUSE



Democrats' health bill

Voting 220 for and 215 against, the House on Nov. 7 passed a bill (HR 3962) that would provide affordable medical insurance to about 36 million uncovered U.S. residents while overhauling insurance industry practices in ways that benefit the sick, the well, the uninsured and the insured. The bill, which awaits Senate action, would extend coverage to about 96 percent of the nonelderly population by 2019 while not adding to the national debt.

The bill expands Medicaid to cover an additional 15 million people, requires employers with payrolls of more than $500,000 to provide insurance for their workers and establishes an exchange for delivering coverage to individuals who do not receive insurance at work or through Medicaid or Medicare. The exchange, or marketplace, would offer private policies alongside a government-run "public option" and would provide subsidies to help low- and middle-income individuals meet premium costs. The public option, a Medicare-style plan in which the government would negotiate rates with doctors and hospitals, would serve an estimated 6 million people.

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About half of the bill's projected cost of $900 billion or more over 10 years would be financed through measures that slow the growth rate of Medicare. Additionally, the bill would raise about $460 billion through a 5.4 percent surtax on individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $500,000 and couples earning more than $1 million. (Surtaxes are figured on taxes owed, not adjusted gross incomes.) The bill also would levy a 2.5 percent excise tax on medical devices, among other revenue-raisers.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Roscoe Bartlett, R-6, no

Pennsylvania

Bill Shuster, R-9, no

West Virginia

Shelley Moore Capito, R-2, no

Republicans' health bill

Voting 176 for and 258 against, the House on Nov. 7 defeated a Republican alternative to HR 3962 that would grant states tens of billions of dollars over 10 years as an incentive for them to expand health insurance coverage and reduce insurance premiums for their residents. The GOP bill also would pay states up to $25 billion over 10 years to finance pools for insuring high-risk individuals and reinsurance programs to help private insurers cover catastrophic costs and thus lower their premium levels. The bill would cover up to 5 million of the uninsured.

In contrast to the Democrats' approach, the Republican measure would not require individuals to obtain insurance or employers to offer it and would allow insurance firms to continue to deny coverage or charge higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing conditions. In other differences, the GOP bill would not raise taxes, expand Medicaid, provide premium subsidies to low- and middle-income individuals or require Medicare to negotiate lower costs for prescription drugs.

A yes vote backed the GOP alternative.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Dispute over abortion

Voting 240 for and 194 against, the House on Nov. 7 amended HR 3962 to prohibit the bill's public option from funding abortions and bar those with premiums subsidized by taxpayers from buying private policies that contain abortion coverage. The amendment went beyond "Hyde Amendment" language already in the bill that would bar federal funding of abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Medical malpractice suits

Voting 187 for and 247 against, the House on Nov. 7 defeated a Republican motion to add limits on medical-malpractice suits to HR 3962. The underlying bill would fund state efforts to reduce the cost of the "defensive medicine" practiced by doctors to fend off lawsuits. Republicans sought to cap noneconomic damage awards at $250,000, limit plaintiffs' lawyers' contingency fees and narrow the window for filing malpractice suits, among other provisions. The GOP motion sought to generate $54 billion to be spent for the benefit of Medicare participants in rural areas.

A yes vote backed the Republican motion.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

SENATE



Judge Davis confirmation

Voting 72 for and 16 against, the Senate on Nov. 9 confirmed federal Judge Andre M. Davis of the Maryland District Court for a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A yes vote was to confirm Davis.

Maryland

Barbara Mikulski, D, yes

Benjamin Cardin, D, yes

Pennsylvania

Arlen Specter, D, yes

Robert Casey Jr., D, yes

West Virginia

Robert Byrd, D, not voting

John Rockefeller, D, yes

Key votes ahead

In the week of Nov. 16, the Senate will take up health care and resume debate on budgets for veterans' programs and military construction. The House schedule was to be announced.

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