Congressman Joseph Donnelly, (D) Indiana’s Second District played a key role in a close vote, as the house approved the health care reform bill 219-to-212 Sunday night.
For weeks, the sidewalk outside Donnelly’s South Bend District Office has been a battle ground for those who love—or hate—the health care reform bill.
Today, only one side showed up to claim victory.
“He came through for the American people,” said Abe Bernstein, a health care reform advocate who today held a sign thanking Donnelly for his support. “This is just like the beginning of Medicare and the civil rights movement; it’s doing what’s right for the majority of American people.”
For others, the passage of the health care reform bill was a bitter pill to swallow. One unidentified man who drove past Abe and other demonstrators today shouted out his window, “Better build some new jails ‘cause I’m not going to pay for anybody else’s insurance….Trader Joe sold us out again.”
Congressman Donnelly only became sold on the health care bill after being convinced he could support it—without selling his soul.
“We have iron clad guarantees that no funds can be used for abortion related services,” said the congressman during a morning conference call to explain his vote.
Donnelly said he was part of a group that worked with the White House on an executive order reaffirming that federal funds would not be used to pay for abortion related services.
Once the abortion issue was diffused, Donnelly said he approached his decision with one simple question in mind. “What do I think makes the most sense for everybody back home?”
Donnelly reasoned that the bill would help business by increasing competition. “We have seen in our own state a situation where one company, one health insurance company has over half the market. We've seen small businesses year after year get increases of twenty percent or more, this will help to reduce those increases.”
Donnelly further determined that the bill was good for senior citizens. “This bill does not reduce any medical benefits for seniors, and in addition, that brand name prescriptions for seniors will be cut by, the cost of them, will be cut by 50-percent in 2011.”
Finally, Donnelly felt that the bill “paid for itself” and would not increase the deficit. “Hoosiers are real common sense, hard working people. While these were very, very important decisions that I wanted to make sure I got right, and I wanted to listen to everybody that I could talk to.”