Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inching Closer to Health Insurance Reform

54 Senate Democrats now say they support using reconciliation to finish health insurance reform. That means the Senate is no longer really a problem as far as getting at least something passed.

41 Senate Democrats now support passing a public option through reconciliation. Nine more and there will be absolutely no reason for a public health insurance option not to be part of the final bill. It's worth noting that these 41 Senators have gone on the record without any urging from the White House on the issue. It's the blogosphere and progressive health reform groups that have kept the public option alive. The president is not talking about the public option anymore. Congressional leaders aren't really talking about the public option anymore. It's a rank and file movement at this point. The White House has said the votes aren't there in the Senate, but each day, we see another vote or two show up. If Obama (not to mention House and Senate leaders) started actually pushing for a public option in the final bill, I think we would certainly see at least 9 more senators step up.

It's ironic that it's now the House that is the potential obstacle to passing any bill at all. If you count every Republican as a no vote on a final bill, add a possible no vote or two from the left, then include the handful of Stupak bloc Democrats, it's gonna be a squeaker. After all this time, all this debate, a handful of conservative Democrats trying to make a point about abortion may be the thing that sinks the entire bill and keeps 30 million Americans uninsured. Can they please make their point somewhere else? Like, in a bill that pertains to abortion? A deal will be struck between Stupak and the leadership. But the question is how long will it take and how will that delay harm the overall process.

However you look at it, we're nearing a conclusion.

BTW, Kate and I went to the health care rally in DC yesterday. I'll post pictures soon.


Becky said...

What's this BS where now Pelosi is saying she won't include the public option? If Durbin will whip it?

I thought I had sort of figured out this whole process with reconciliation and all the maneuvering involved and Byrd-bathing, etc., but I'm kind of confused again.

Chris said...

It all comes down to Nancy whipping Dick.

Dave said...

I think at this point they've decided that getting it done quickly is more important than putting in a public option. The next best hope for the public option is probably a stand-alone bill, like the bill Alan Grayson introduced that would allow anyone to buy into Medicare. I think he now has over 60 co-sponsors and there's been a lot of support for a Medicare buy-in in the past.

It makes sense. Why should we have to explain some new public option to people, when we already have public health insurance that people really love in Medicare. "Medicare for all!" should have been the rallying cry from the beginning.

I think the day after Obama signs the current health reform bill into law, all the organizations that have been working hard for this bill should shift over to Medicare For All. Don't give the Republicans any time to start running on repealing health care reform. Make them defend against us expanding a highly popular single-payer system--Medicare.

Becky said...

Yes, agreed. The public option was always a crappier option than single payer.