If I'm criticizing Democrats for running away from historic health legislation, I can't very well criticize Sen. Blanche Lincoln for singing its praises, can I? It's too bad she's going to be a "no" vote on a critical part of the deal that won its approval -- the coming reconciliation legislation from the House.
But Gov. Beebe would do well to copy Lincoln's talking points and send them around. UPDATE: Or use Mark Pryor's release, which follows Lincoln's on the jump, with its invocation of Joe T. Robinson and Wilbur Mills and a handy list of all the positives in this legislation.
CC: Robbie Wills, Chad Causey, Mike Ross and other nominal Democrats.
BY THE WAY: James Carville is helping Lincoln. Daily Kos is not amused. In response to his tout, Kos responds:
Expand health care coverage? She was critical to killing the public option, and now she's voting against the reconciliation fix. Create new energy policy? She's trying to gut the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases while opposing cap and trade. Arkansas common sense? Only if it's common sense to sell your soul to the highest corporate bidder. And when you're sporting an approval rating in the 30s, it's clear Arkansas itself is done with her.
Well, the party establishment has sent out its dinosaurs to try and rescue Lincoln. It's up to us to counter.
So I've got a new goal for Bill Halter -- 500 new contributors by the end of the month, which would take us to 1,800 for Bill Halter
Kos also takes time today to poke holes in Blanche Lincoln's school lunch legislation. It actually more than slashes in half the president's idea.
LINCOLN NEWS RELEASE
Washington—United States Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) made the following statement today after attending the historic White House signing of the Senate Health Insurance Reform bill, which Lincoln supported last Christmas Eve by casting a “yes” vote for the measure.
“Today is a momentous day for Arkansas's families and small businesses who will immediately benefit from this legislation," Lincoln said. “I was proud to be on hand as the Senate health insurance reform legislation that I helped craft was signed into law. I now look forward to watching the benefits of this legislation improve the lives of Arkansans, by reducing costs for small business owners and the self-employed so they can reinvest the savings in their companies and hire more workers, by forcing insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, by preserving Medicare for future generations and by reducing the deficit by more than one trillion dollars over the next 20 years."
The Senate Health Insurance Reform Bill that was signed into law today includes many benefits for Arkansans that will go into effect this year. These include:
· Small business tax credit: Qualified small businesses will receive a tax credit for contributions they make to purchase coverage for their employees. This credit, authored by Sen. Lincoln, will benefit up to 50,000 Arkansas small businesses with 260,000 employees.
· A ban on imposing preexisting condition exclusions on children’s coverage: Starting this year, 709,968 children in Arkansas will no longer be susceptible to insurance company’s decisions to exclude them from coverage based on a preexisting condition.
· Provisions to close the Medicare Part D “Doughnut Hole” and improve other Medicare benefits for 506,000 Arkansas seniors: Senator Lincoln fought to reduce the Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage gap, or “doughnut hole,” which means as many as 174,660 Arkansas seniors could see up to $1,743 in prescription drug savings starting this year.
· Provisions to provide immediate access to insurance to uninsured individuals with a preexisting condition: The bill provides affordable insurance options to as many as 63,272 uninsured Arkansans who have a preexisting condition.
· An extension of dependent coverage: Any group plan or plan in the individual market that allows parents to cover their children must continue to make that coverage available until that child turns 26 years old. This stands to benefit 262,664 young adults in Arkansas.
· An elimination of lifetime limits and restrictions on use of annual limits: The bill prohibits lifetime limits on benefits in all group health plans and in the individual market and restricts the use of annual limits.
· Prohibition on Health Insurance Rescissions: Health insurance companies will no longer be able to rescind a person’s existing health insurance policies when a person gets sick as a way of avoiding covering the costs of that person’s health care needs.
· An extension of payment protections for rural providers: Medicare payment protections for small rural hospitals will be protected, including hospital outpatient services, lab services, and facilities that have a low-volume of Medicare patients but play a vital role in their communities.
MARK PRYOR NEWS RELEASE
Seventy-five years ago, Majority Leader Joe T. Robinson helped enact Social Security to ensure our seniors could live with dignity. Thirty years later, Representative Wilbur Mills led the charge to create Medicare and Medicaid so seniors and the poor could receive necessary medical care. Today, President Obama has signed into law an equally historic piece of legislation, building on these programs’ legacy of providing dignity, stability and care to Americans.
This health care reform law lays a solid foundation for more affordable, reliable and accessible health care. While 32 million Americans will gain health insurance, millions more will benefit from tax credits, more competition in the insurance marketplace, and meaningful steps to reduce the deficit. In addition, we all win with protections against abusive health insurance practices. Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to impose caps on lifetime coverage, drop insurance coverage because of an illness, or deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I am proud to be part of this monumental effort.
Effective Dates of Major Provisions of the Health Care Law:
Bars insurers from denying coverage to children who have preexisting conditions (covers all people in 2014).
Bars insurers from imposing lifetime caps on coverage.
Stops insurers from dropping insurance when claims are filed.
Offers small business employers tax credits of up to 35% of their employees’ premiums depending on size of firm and annual wages. When exchanges are operational in 2014, credits will increase to 50 percent of premiums.
Provides access to high-risk pools for people who have preexisting conditions.
Requires insurers to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26.
Eliminates co-pays and deductibles for preventive care.
Assists States in establishing offices for consumer assistance to help individuals with filing complaints, appeals and tax credit eligibility.
Provides funds to build new and expand existing community health centers.
Requires individual and small group market insurance plans to spend 80% of premium dollars on medical services, not CEO pay or administrative costs. Large group plans would have to spend at least 85%.
Establishes health insurance exchanges to allow individuals and small businesses to comparison shop, creating a competitive insurance marketplace.
Creates multi-state, private plans, similar to those offered to Member of Congress
Provides assistance for families earning up to 400 percent of the poverty level – or about $88,000 a year – to purchase health insurance.
Requires employers with 50 or more employees to contribute to the cost of providing coverage.
Requires people who can afford it to be personally accountable for purchasing their own health care coverage. This requirement eliminates the $1,000 a year “hidden tax” that every insured Arkansas family has to pay for those who do not have insurance.