This evening, Congressman Glenn Nye (D-Va), released a statement announcing that he will be voting against the health care bill tomorrow. I'm incredibly disappointed. I supported Nye and was looking forward to helping him get reelected this year.
I have spoken with Nye about health care reform and always knew there was a possibility he would vote against it if the legislation didn't help decrease health care costs. Nye is the Chair of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Technology and he's pragmatic. When the recent CBO report on the health care reconciliation package estimated that the legislation would "reduce federal budget deficits over the ensuing decade," I thought we were in the clear and Nye would vote for the bill. Alas, I was wrong.
The article from my local paper, implies that a major reason Nye is voting against the bill is it's possible affect on the TriCare health plans military families use.
The original version of legislation in the House had specifically exempted TRICARE from being affected. However, when the final bill language was released on Thursday afternoon, it was revealed that neither the Senate bill nor the reconciliation package contained an exemption for TRICARE.
“Our military families need to be able to count on their health care benefits, and I am not willing to risk negative consequences for our military personnel and their families, particularly at a time when our troops are serving overseas in harm’s way,” said Nye.
It seems that Rep. Nye is using the lack of an exemption for TriCare health plans as a major justification for voting against the pending health care legislation. Regular readers of MOMocrats know that I am part of a military family and a staunch advocate for military families. Glenn Nye has been a wonderful advocate for military families as well, so this reason for voting against the bill has a ring of truth.
Introducing the legislation on the floor of the House, Ike Skelton (D-Mo), stated
Madam Speaker, it is a commonly known fact that I oppose the health care reform bill as it exists currently and will vote against it tomorrow. But, my duty as the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee compels me to ensure that the health care of our brave service men and women, our military retirees, and all of their family members is protected if the bill does indeed pass.In the health care bill currently under consideration in Congress, TRICARE and the Non-Appropriated Fund health plans, the programs that provide health care for these individuals, will meet the minimum requirements for individual health insurance coverage, and no TRICARE or NAF health plan beneficiary will be required to purchase additional coverage beyond what they already have.However, to reassure our military service members and their families and make it perfectly clear that they will not be negatively affected by this legislation, my bill, H.R. 4887, explicitly states in law that these health plans meet the minimum requirements for individual health insurance.
This legislation passed unanimously, many hours before Nye released his statement about his health care vote and 9 hours before it appeared on my local paper's website.
Clearly Glenn Nye is voting against the health care legislation. I'm not happy about it and I think he's wrong. The bill isn't perfect, but it will help far more people than it will harm. I've heard through the grapevine that the calls to his office are running at about 80% against health care reform and, while I'm sympathetic, I don't even think that's a great justification for voting against the legislation. Some things are far more important than getting reelected.
However, I would respect Nye more if he simply stated that he's voting the way his constituents want him to. Using military families and their health care as justification for voting against health care reform, particularly when it's no longer an issue, just pisses me off.
I have thus far been unable to obtain the full text of Nye's statement. I can only hope that the Virginian Pilot, in excerpting from Rep. Nye's statement, has grossly misunderstood Nye's meaning.
UPDATE: A more recent story about Nye's vote on the Virginian Pilot's website again mentions TriCare as a reason for Nye's vote. I'm beginning to think it's less likely the Pilot misinterpreted Nye's justifications for his vote against health care reform.
The only positive I can see to Nye's defection is that the Democrats must have the votes they need tomorrow, because Political Wire is reporting that vulnerable Democrats are now being released from voting for the legislation. Nye can't get reelected without the support of the DNC. While Nye has certainly never voted in lock step with the Democrats in Congress, I can't see him bucking the party if it really needed his vote for this historic legislation.
But, Glenn, good luck finding progressives in the Hampton Roads area who will campaign for you. I can't see area conservatives getting out the vote for you either, so good luck with that. You may have alienated the only portion of your constituency that could make a difference. That's what happens when you stand on the wrong side of history.
Stephanie also rants on her personal blog, Lawyer Mama, and occasionally on the D.C. Metro Moms site. She is also a proud member of a military family and the New Media Director for a non-profit group dedicated to supporting military families.