Braley a “yes” on health care bill

Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo, Iowa) just held a conference call at 10:10 central; 11:10 eastern with three Iowa reporters to announce he will vote for the health care bill when the vote is held in the House tomorrow (Sunday).

“Throughout this week I have been working very hard…to try to continue to improve the language of the bill to satisfy my concerns,” Braley said.  “…As of right now, we have made substantial progress…and I am in a position where I will be supporting the health care bill when it comes to the floor for a vote tomorrow.”

The “geographic disparities” in Medicare were the issue he was seeking to include in the final package.   He and a group of House members who’d been active on this issue met this morning with the H.H.S. secretary.  Sebelius has promised a national summit later this year, sometime in September, to address this issue and she’s agreed to launch an Institute of Medicine study in April to come up with a new payment system that bases Medicare payments not on geography but on quality.

“(Sebelius) met with us this morning at about 9:30 to reaffirm her strong commitment. We have also received a letter from her dated today that outlines her commitment to moving forward on these key provisions,” Braley told reporters from Radio Iowa, The Des Moines Register and The Quad City Times.

“…We were at the capitol in the speaker’s office from 10 o’clock last night ’til three o’clock this morning, hammering through the tough requirements of getting language that would pass the strict requirements of the senate parliamentarian for implementation,” Braley said.  “…It’s been a very long night.  It’s been a very tough period of negotiations, but based on these significant improvements…it’s a bill I can support with great pride.”

Question posed to Braley by me: If this payment disparity issue had not been included in the package, would you have voted against it?

“Well, that’s not even a relevant point because one of the things I’ve said consistently is that I needed to see the final language of the bill and then I would judge whether the entire package was worthy of my support,” Braley said.  “I never gave up, despite many obstacles, to try to keep moving on these important issues because it affects the health care of every Iowan and it’s one of the most important concerns I hear from doctors and hospitals in my district and throughout the state.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.