Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 | 12:24 p.m.
WASHINGTON -- Democratic Rep. Dina Titus dropped her opposition today to the House health care bills, saying changes have been made since she voted against it in committee in July and it has now won her support.
Titus had been walking a political line of supporting health reform, but opposing several elements of the House plan -- particularly its surtax on higher-wage earners she feared would snare many couples and small business owners in her Southern Nevada district.
The balance was a smart political move in Southern Nevada, where the congresswoman's district remains politically split. She will have to face voters next fall.
“For more than six months I have discussed the need for health care reform with my constituents, and time and again I heard from small business owners who are struggling to afford health care coverage,” Titus said in a statement. "After having serious concerns about the impact the first health care bill would have on small businesses, I am pleased that the new House bill takes important steps to make health insurance more affordable and accessible for the uninsured, employers, and those with preexisting conditions.”
The main objection for Titus had been the surtax on those making more than $280,000 annually ($300,000 for married couples) to pay for subsidies to help the uninsured buy policies. The new bill, which could go for a vote in the House in coming days, raises the threshold for the tax to $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for families.
The new bill also preserves an amendment Titus was able to insert during the committee vote that allows more small businesses to access to the new health exchange, where they can buy insurance policies for their employees.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Dean Heller, who opposes the health care plan, joined South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson today to push for having members of Congress drop their existing health care coverage and join the public option plan that is one of the choices being offered to the uninsured in the House bill. MSNBC has the Heller story here.