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Markey to vote in favor of health care bill

2:48 PM, Mar 18, 2010   |    comments
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"I have very closely taken a look at the compromise version, I read the (Congressional Budget Office) budget analysis today and I have decided that I am going to support this bill and vote for the bill," she said.

Markey was among 39 Democrats who voted against the House version of the reform bill in November, saying the bill did not do enough to control health care costs.

She said the new bill - a combination of a Senate version of the reform bill plus some changes insisted on by House members - was a significant improvement over the House bill she voted against five months ago.

"Particularly in the out years there's significantly more deficit reduction and I have to say this is going to be the largest deficit reduction bill that I will ever vote for," said Markey, a member of the Blue Dog Caucus of Democratic deficit hawks.

She also said state insurance exchanges included in the latest bill will help control costs. She also said the new bill is better for small businesses because it allows them to pool together for lower rates, and exempts businesses with less than 50 employees from the mandate that employers provide coverage.

Several Democrats who supported the bill in November - which passed on a vote of 220-215 - have said they'll vote no this time, mostly because the latest bill does not have anti-abortion measures that were contained in the earlier bill.

Those defections heightened the importance of Markey and a handful of other moderate Democrats who opposed the earlier bill. That small group of Democrats essentially controls the fate of the signature issue of President Barack Obama and other party leaders.

House Democratic leaders have said the expected many of their wavering moderate members to commit once the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its analysis, or score, of the impact of the bill on the federal deficit. Markey is among the first to do so.

The score, released this morning, estimated that the bill would cost $940 billion over the coming decade, but also would reduce federal budget deficits by $138 billion over the next 10 years and by $1.2 trillion over the following 10 years.

The CBO estimated shortly before the November House vote that the earlier version of the bill would save $109 billion over the next 10 years.

"The second 10 years expected savings are $1.2 trillion, where in the House bill, the out years the CBO said it would slight to inconsequential," Markey said.

Markey's decision to vote in favor of the bill will almost certainly become a dominant issue for Republicans as they try to oust her in November. Markey in 2008 became the first Democrat in 36 years to win the 4th Congressional District seat, and national Republicans have made ousting her a top priority this year.

Two recent polls released by business groups opposed to the Democrats' health care bill showed a majority of district residents were against the bill.

Markey said her decision to support the bill was about policy, not politics.

"I'm not a career politician and I've said this before, this is not a stepping stone for another career. I'm not here as a place to retire," she said. "This is what I'm working on right now is health care policy and I think that in the long run this is going to be really significant legislation that does bend the cost curve and start getting some of our health care costs under control."

This story written by Bob Moore, Fort Collins Coloradoan.

(Copyright © 2010 Fort Collins Coloradoan, All Rights Reserved)

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