Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kucinich amendment passes!

On Friday, the House Education and Labor Committee made instituting state-level single payer a little easier by approving an amendment by Rep. Dennis Kucinich that would allow states to waive the application of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which has in the past been used to nullify efforts to expand state or local government health care. The committee approved the Kucinich Amendment by a vote of 27-19, with 14 Democrats and 13 Republicans voting yes.

California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have active state-level campaigns for single payer. Under the amendment, a state's application for a waiver from ERISA is granted automatically if the state has signed into law a single payer plan. With the amendment, for the first time, the state single payer health care option is shielded from an ERISA-based legal attack. The goal now is to make sure this amendment is included in the final version of the bill.

Rep. Kucinich has proposed other amendments to HR3200, including an amendment adding complementary and alternative medicine to standard coverage, an amendment to stop insurers from increasing premiums at times when subscribers are not permitted to change health plans, and an amendment to daylight insurance industry expenditures on advertising, marketing and executive pay.

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