Track the health care votes

    Democratic leadership in the U.S. House considers the passage of the House health care overhaul bill a victory — but the votes didn’t fall strictly along party lines. Track how Congressional Representatives from this region voted, and why.

    Democratic leadership in the U.S. House considers the passage of the House health care overhaul bill a victory — but the votes didn’t fall strictly along party lines. Track how Congressional Representatives from this region voted, and why.

    [Note: We’ve put the questions below to all the representatives listed, and will update this page as we receive their responses.]

    Pennsylvania

    Robert Brady (PA-01, D)
    Vote: Yes
    Statement

    What items are non-negotiable in a final bill?

    The final bill must increase coverage for the currently uninsured, must end insurance company abuses, such as denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, and must offer choice in insurance to Americans.

    What are your feelings on a public option for purchasing health insurance that was part of the bill?

    I support single payer health care for Americans and was willing to accept a public option in order to get a bill that can pass. The public option will give Americans the choice of insurance that we deserve and will give insurance companies the competition they need to control the rising costs of health care.

    Charles Dent (PA-15, R)
    Vote: No
    Statement

    What items are non-negotiable in a final bill?

    What must be present — effective medical liability reform; insurance market reforms that provide consumer protections and transparency; a system to offer coverage to those with pre-existing conditions; prevention and wellness initiatives; flexibility to allow small businesses and the self-employed to pool risk and obtain lower health insurance costs; provisions for consumers to purchase insurance across state lines; equalized tax treatment for individuals buying health insurance; stronger mechanisms to fight waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare/Medicaid.

    What must be absent — half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare benefits; 34 billion dollars in additional Medicaid costs passed down to the States; a job-killing tax on medical devices; the elimination of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a government plan that will force people out of their employer-provided insurance and compound our federal government’s unsustainable health care spending.

    What are your feelings on a public option for purchasing health insurance that was part of the bill?

    The government option does not lower costs and it will force millions of Americans out of their existing health care plans, leading toward an unsustainable single-payer system. The proponents of this system greatly understate the number of Americans who will not be able to “keep what they have if they like it” and the long term cost that it will place on our federal government. Only in Washington can someone say with a straight face that spending more than one trillion dollars and creating a new entitlement program will not add a dime to the deficit now or in the future.

    Chaka Fattah (PA-02, D)
    Vote: Yes
    Statement

    What items are non-negotiable in a final bill?

    While I am proud of the unprecedented changes H.R. 3962 includes to provide women of all ages and incomes better access to comprehensive healthcare, I would have serious reservations about a final version of the Health Care bill that is more restrictive than current law in terms of a woman’s right to choose a legal medical procedure such as abortion. And the final bill must contain a strong public insurance option.

    What are your feelings on a public option for purchasing health insurance that was part of the bill?

    I support a strong public insurance option and believe that it must be part of final legislation approved in Congress.

    Jim Gerlach (PA-06, R)
    Vote: No
    Statement

    Patrick Murphy (PA-08, D)
    Vote: Yes
    Statement

    What items are non-negotiable in a final bill?

    Any bill I vote for must end the abusive practices that insurance companies have gotten away with for decades, like denying people coverage for “pre-existing conditions,” which includes things like pregnancy, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Reform must stop insurers from terminating plans when people get sick and from putting caps on the lifetime benefits people can get, since no one has control over how sick or injured they could get. Reform must also provide families affordability credits to purchase insurance if they can’t afford it, and must strengthen benefits for our seniors by, among other things, closing the Medicare “donut hole” and lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
     
    What are your feelings on a public option for purchasing health insurance that was part of the bill?
     
    I’ve said for months that I believe a public option is the best way to inject much-needed competition into the insurance market, increase consumer choice and access, and reduce the cost of coverage for Bucks County families, seniors, and small business owners.  If a public option passes in the final bill and becomes law, I will enroll myself and my family in it.

    Joseph Pitts (PA-16, R)
    Vote: No
    Statement (pdf link)

    What items are non-negotiable in a final bill?

    We need to have real medical malpractice reform. Junk lawsuits and defensive medicine are costing up to $125 billion dollars every year. We need portability so that people can take their insurance with them when they leave their job. We also need competition across state lines to drive down prices.

    What are your feelings on a public option for purchasing health insurance that was part of the bill?

    The public option will compete with private insurance on an unlevel playing field that could drive many private insurers out of business. This plan won’t be subject to taxes, lawsuits, or state mandates and regulations. I’m concerned that the public option will lead us towards a single-payer, government-run healthcare system.

    Allyson Schwartz (PA-13, D)
    Vote: Yes
    Statement

    What items are non-negotiable in a final bill?

    One is I think it has to be paid for. That’s important to make sure we are not adding to the annual deficit or the national debt. That’s important to me. I also think that it is going to be important to – as we require individuals to have health insurance – that there are adequate subsidies for those who are lower income working folks, and that includes a public option along with private insurers. We’ve added some new provisions in the house bill that will work to bring down premiums for those who buy insurance on their own or for all businesses but particularly small businesses. So what we do for those who already have insurance to make sure that they have those consumer protections and control the rising growth of premiums is going to be important.

    What are your feelings on a public option for purchasing health insurance that was part of the bill?
    The public option I believe is an important aspect of the healthcare reform legislation because it provides a choice for Americans and if we’re requiring Americans to have insurance, insuring that there is competition and choice and greater affordability is important.

    Joe Sestak (PA-07, D)
    Vote: Yes
    Statement

     

    New Jersey

    John Adler (NJ-03, D)
    Vote: No
    Statement

    Robert Andrews (NJ-01, D)
    Vote: Yes
    Statement

    What is non-negotiable in the final bill to get your approval?

    The only thing that’s non-negotiable for me is that the plan make the health care system better. And for me better means slower growth in costs for businesses and families, it means covering everyone, and it means real quality coverage, not just phony coverage. So there are a lot of different ways we can get there, but I don’t want to see something that’s half baked.

    What about the public option for purchasing health insurance that was part of the bill?

    I think that a public option is the best way to encourage competition and competition is the best way to lower costs for everyone and the economy. But I’m not going to issue any ultimatums or draw lines in the sand. I want to work with the president and get the best bill we can for the American people after decades and decades of failure.

    Rush Holt (NJ-12, D)
    Vote: Yes
    Statement

    What items are non-negotiable in a final bill?

    There has to be something that will exert downward pressure on prices. There has to be equitable access to healthcare – it has to be equitable both in access and in paying for that healthcare. It has to have as close to a universal application as possible. So that if you are in America, you can expect to have healthcare coverage.

    What about the public option for purchasing health insurance that was part of the bill?

    I’ve said all along that having a government-administered policy that would be an option for people to choose is one of the few parts of the bill that actually does exert a downward pressure on escalating costs. I think if you took that away, the other cost containment measures such as removing the anti-trust provision and some of these other things wouldn’t be sufficient. I think you really need that in there.

    Frank Lobiando (NJ-02, R)
    Vote: No
    Statement

     

    Delaware

    Michael Castle (At-Large, R)
    Vote: No
    Statement

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.