Path to Reform Passage Looks Clearer
By Ben Pershing
The White House continued to insist Monday that "nothing has changed" in its position on health-care reform. But two things clearly have: 1) It was likely before, but now appears almost certain, that the public insurance option will be in the House bill, won't be in the Senate bill and won't be in the conference report; 2) Now everyone needs to figure out what exactly health-care co-ops are and whether they will work on a broad scale.
President Obama's move increased the odds that he will actually get something passed, at least in the Senate. In the House, many Democrats -- particularly members of the Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus -- vowed that a bill would not pass their chamber without the public option. But Obama doesn't have to convince House liberals to accept half-a-loaf now. There's no talk at this point of dropping the public option from the House bill, only that it won't survive conference negotiations later this year.
If the final bill doesn't include a public plan, it likely will include health-insurance co-ops, and idea propagated by Kent Conrad that currently doesn't have many fans among either Democrats or Republicans. "As the situation stands, there's no existing model for co-ops to follow and no policy specifics on Conrad's idea, so it's impossible to say whether, or how, they will work," Ezra Klein explains. But the "idea works if it somehow solves the political problem that birthed it." BusinessWeek says Conrad's model "has been tested only on a small scale and is a questionable vehicle to generate real competition for huge health-insurance corporations." But Conrad defended his plan Monday, the Wall Street Journal writes, saying that Senate negotiators are convinced the co-op idea can work.
Posted at 8:35 AM ET on Aug 18, 2009
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