• WisPolitics


Thursday, December 24, 2009

 7:38 AM 

Feingold, Kohl support health care bill

The U.S. Senate early this morning approved sweeping health care reform legislation along party lines, with Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing an $871 billion package that cuts $462 billion from Medicare, mandates that all Americans purchase health insurance and extends coverage to about 25 million uninsured.

The rare holiday session featured the first Christmas Eve debates since 1963 and the first Christmas Eve votes since 1895. Members voted at 7 a.m. and immediately left town until late January.

Wisconsin's two senators, Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, and Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, voted in favor of the health care legislation, which has been high on President Barack Obama's list of domestic priorities.

The final vote was 60-39.

"The Senate health care reform bill includes some important victories for Wisconsin," Feingold said, in a statement released by his office.

Among those victories, according to Feingold, are:

*More Medicare funding by fixing the "unfair" reimbursement formula. Feingold said the new formula will reward "the high quality, low cost care practiced at places like Gundersen Lutheran and the Marshfield Clinic."

*Increased funding for Medicaid, the joint state-federal program that provides health care to the poor.

"I worked with my colleagues to make these changes because they are good for our state, and good policy overall. While there are a number of things in this bill I don't support, like the lack of a public option, I am pleased to support these important gains for Wisconsin," Feingold said.

The Senate bill must now be reconciled with the House legislation, which was approved back in November.

UPDATE: Kohl is also praising the bill, it contains several provisions that he championed.

They include the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which would require the disclosure of gifts and payments given to doctors from the pharmaceutical, biologic, and medical device industries. Another is the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act, which would give consumers with more information about individual nursing homes and their track record of care, among other things.

"With this bill, we will begin the process of cutting health care costs, while maintaining quality and expanding coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans," Kohl said in a statement. "This is what we said we would do, and I hope we send a finalized bill to the President when we return in January."

-David M. Drucker


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