Another day, another reform compromise
By Ben Pershing
The year -- and this session of Congress -- may be nearly over, but it's never too late for yet another sweeping revision of the health-care reform proposals that have been under consideration for months.
Major changes are afoot in the Senate: "A potential deal took shape Monday that could eliminate the public option from the Senate health reform bill, as Democrats weighed big expansions of both Medicare and Medicaid in a bid to break an impasse over the government insurance plan," Politico writes. As part of the compromise, the New York Times reports, "the federal Office of Personnel Management would negotiate with insurance companies to offer national health plans to individuals, families and small businesses." In return for that concession, liberals would get their wish of having the age for Medicare eligibility reduced to 55, with the newly eligible allowed to buy in to the government health program. This twist includes a cameo by none other than Howard Dean, who "injected the buy-in concept back into the negotiations two weeks ago," Politico notes.
Does the White House -- which is said to prefer the "trigger" compromise -- have an opinion on this development? Reaction to the plan off the Hill was mixed, the Wall Street Journal reports: "The scaled-back government plan got a warm reception from some in the insurance industry, which has opposed the version of the public option in the Senate bill. But some health-policy specialists were skeptical the plan would do much to lower insurance prices or generate competition, noting the exchange would already include nonprofit plans operated by private entities." Abortion also continues to be a sticking point, as the Senate will vote as early as Tuesday on Ben Nelson's amendment placing restrictions on federal funding for abortions. If, as expected, the amendment fails, it will be that much harder to get Nelson's vote in the future.
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