Friday, June 19, 2009

My Thoughts On Health Care Reform

We're going to look back at this week as the moment everyone freaked out needlessly, as the Senate Finance Committee—the rightmost pole in the health care debate—moved its plan further rightward, scaling back coverage and public intervention. Meanwhile, the House hasn't budged and expects to produce a bill with a public option. The final bill will be something in between; my guess, it will be the Senate bill plussed up a tiny bit, perhaps with a somewhat hobbled public plan, or one limited to individuals under a certain income threshold. A half dozen house liberals and a similar number of Blue Dogs will vote against it. In the Senate, no Republican will vote for it except Olympia Snowe. Every Democrat, including Ted Kennedy, Arlen Specter, and the newly-seated Al Franken, will vote for the bill.

In between now and then, it's going to be a long, hot summer in Washington DC.


janinsanfran said...

And the product will be as good for us as the Bush Medicare drug benefit?

yoyo said...

isn't the rightmost pole the republican who votes to end debate if Nelson or Bayh decide to show they're serious to improve their grandstanding position for the future?

low-tech cyclist said...

I think that sentiment was quite appropriate during campaign season. But I've yet to see any evidence that Obama's capable of getting anything more out of Congress than they're already willing to give.

1) He let the stimulus get watered down in advance. (Krugman says it'll be just enough to offset the effect of state budget cuts. Great.)

2) He let his assistance to homeowners basically get gutted, and he never put any effort behind keeping 'cramdown' in the bill.

3) He's let others define the deficit as an important issue for the near term, as distinct from the medium and long term. This'll make any 'second stimulus' bill unlikely, and make it harder to use budget bills as stimulus.

He needs to bring his A game to this issue. I'm not seeing it being brought. Getting there early and defining the conversation really is important in this town. He needs to be telling the Baucuses and Nelsons of the world that he's going to give speeches in their states at the beginning of the next recess about why a strong public plan is important, and they can either join him on the podium, or they can answer their constituents' questions about why they're against it.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how a weak public plan is going to be much of an improvement over the current situation. Private health insurers will still dominate, costs will continue to rise, millions of people will continue to be underinsured, and the insurance companies will continue to drop people's coverage when they need it most.