Health Care Reform’s Final Deal

White House photo/<a href="">Pete Souza</a> (<a href="">Government Work</a>)

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

It took President Barack Obama and an executive order, but in the end, the Democrats got the deal they need to pass health care reform.

The White House and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the leader of a group of anti-abortion Democrats, reached a deal late Sunday afternoon on an executive order reiterating that the health care bill does not fund abortions. The final deal falls short of Stupak’s ultimate goal: forcing people who receive tax credits to help pay for insurance to buy special, separate “riders” (basically abortion-only insurance plans) if they want abortion coverage. As it stands, people who receive tax credits and want abortion coverage have to pay for it with a separate check, but the abortion coverage doesn’t have to be a separate “rider” policy. Stupak has apparently decided, after taking the Democrats’ historic push for health care legislation to the brink of failure, that he can settle for that.

“You’re not going to find Stupak language” in the executive order, the congressman admitted at a heavily attended Sunday afternoon press conference announcing his decision. Stupak tacitly acknowledged he had settled for less than his ideal. “We’d rather have a statute,” he said. But he didn’t get it. Earlier today, I wrote that there were two ways to understand Stupak: either he just wanted his moment in the spotlight and would compromise once given sufficient cover by the White House, or he really was prepared to stand his ground and let health care stand or fall on the issue of abortion funding.

Stupak chose the first option. By taking this deal, he has decided that his major goal was less important than passing health care reform. Perhaps at some point the Stupak bloc either realized they were wrong or decided they were fighting an unwinnable battle. As Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio), a Stupak ally, said at the press conference, the executive order provides them with political cover aplenty. The Stupak bloc “wanted to make sure that it was crystal clear to the American people” that the bill doesn’t fund abortion, Driehaus says. The executive order definitely helps on that front. But many reasonable people already knew what it took Stupak, Driehaus, and their friends months and months to figure out.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend