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House Passes Massive Medical Insurance Bill, 219-212 2424

The votes are in: yesterday evening, after a last-minute compromise over abortion payments, the US House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill effecting major changes in American medical finance. From the BBC's coverage: "The president is expected to sign the House-passed Senate bill as early as Tuesday, after which it will be officially enacted into law. However, it will contain some very unpopular measures that Democratic senators have agreed to amend. The Senate will be able to make the required changes in a separate bill using a procedure known as reconciliation, which allows budget provisions to be approved with 51 votes - rather than the 60 needed to overcome blocking tactics." No Republican voted in favor of the bill; 34 Democrats voted against. As law, the system set forth would extend insurance coverage to an estimated 32 million Americans, impose new taxes on high-income earners as well as provide some tax breaks and subsidies for others, and considerably toughen the regulatory regime under which insurance companies operate. The anticipated insurance regime phases in (starting with children, and expanding to adults in 2014) a requirement that insurance providers accept those with preexisting conditions, and creates a system of fines, expected to be administered by the IRS, for those who fail or refuse to obtain health insurance.

The Fresca Rebellion 776

theodp writes "They can ban the Marlboros, tax the Cokes, and zone the Whoppers, says Slate's William Saletan on the subject of today's morality cops. But it's time to put the brakes on the paternalistic overreaching of the food police, Saletan argues, when they come after his editor's beloved Fresca ('there are concerns that diet beverages may increase calorie consumption by justifying consumption of other caloric foods'), which will have to be pried from his cold, dead hands. '40 states have enacted special taxes on soda or junk food. And the soda taxers are becoming ever bolder. Their latest manifesto is an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, co-authored by the health commissioner of New York City, the surgeon general of Arkansas, and several others. It declares soda fair game for government intervention (PDF) on the grounds that "market failures" in this area are causing "less-than-optimal production and consumption."' Where do we draw the line?"

"People should have access to the data which you have about them. There should be a process for them to challenge any inaccuracies." -- Arthur Miller