Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Health care debate stalled over
controversial Tupac Amendment

WASHINGTON – Late last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark health care legislation. But, in an eleventh hour move, Representative Laura Richardson of California’s 37th district, added the Tupac Amendment to gain support of the critical West Coast Caucus. The amendment is now source of heavy debate in the Senate.

The amendment, co-authored by Reps Richardson and Henry Waxman would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to thug citizens, would require coverage of bullet wounds – stray or intentional – and provide $700,000 to fund the creation of a Tupac Amaru Shakur Historical and Research Center in Compton and finance desperately needed upgrades to the
Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Atlanta.

This late addition to the bill enraged members of the congressional East Coast Caucus who swore to oppose any bill with the Tupac Amendment. Some members went as far as proposing their own, Biggie Amendment, which would target reducing cases of diabetes in low-income areas and pledge $1 million to provide mink coats to single mothers in public housing. Few insiders believe the Biggie Amendment can make it out of committee, but it has significantly raised the level of rhetoric on Hill.

“The Tupac Amendment is an egregious assault on the rights of law-abiding Americans,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, vociferous critic of the bill. “It’s an enormous step backward for those who believe in the separation of the Player from the Game.”

Prominent Republican figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Rep. Mike Pence, also attacked the bill. Both critics have perpetuated Internet rumors claiming the Tupac Amendment will pave the way for the Obama administration’s secretive "drive-by death panels" intended to put several rounds of bullets between doctors and their patients.

Members of congress are skeptical about reaching any consensus now. “Last week I felt we were on track to fix our broken health care system,” lamented Whitehouse. “But with the addition of this amendment, we seem more likely headed towards a 2pacalypse."

Story by C. Bommarito