Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

The House Shows Its Hand on Health Reform


The outline of the House health-care plan -- called the "Tri-Committee" plan because it's the joint product of Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Education and Labor -- is about what you'd expect and pretty close to what you'd hope: Strong public plan, subsidies to 400 percent of poverty, expansion of Medicaid to 133 percent of poverty, caps on out-of-pocket spending, a national Health Insurance Exchange that employers can buy into, and so on. You can download the fact sheet here.

It will be interesting to see the Congressional Budget Office score this proposal. In particular, that will give us a concrete estimate of how much money a strong public plan can, or cannot, save. It will give us a concrete estimate of how much a strong insurance exchange does, or does not, save. It will, in other words, clarify the tradeoffs between various choices considerably. It will be much less viable for the Senate to scale back its legislation on grounds of cost if it has not included policies the Congressional Budget Office has scored as producing significant savings.

That will be particularly true when the two plans come to conference. In the Senate, the Finance Committee must soon reconcile its bill with the more liberal legislation being considered by the HELP Committee. If the product of those negotiations passes the Senate, and this bill passes the House, then the two bills will need to be reconciled with each other. And it will be hard, I imagine, for Senate negotiators to explain to House negotiators that they need to cover fewer people because Blanche Lincoln doesn't want insurers to compete with a public plan.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 19, 2009; 4:02 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Dan Froomkin
Next: Democracy and the House Health Reform Bill


It's all up to the CBO now. Enzi will have a tough time explaining why he was waiving the first CBO estimate around if the new figures are more favorable to the public option.
I've previously been less than enthusiastic about the public plan; I thought there were other, less controversial ways to achieve meaningful reform. But in the last few days the Republicans have successfully steered the conversation towards cost. And say what you will about the public plan, but every analysis concludes it will save money. The question the CBO will have to answer is does it save money for the federal government, and does it do so on a 10 year time scale. If the answers are yes, the public plan becomes a political asset, then of course I support it.

Posted by: CarlosXL | June 19, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the CBO score HR676?

Posted by: lensch | June 19, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

POTUS supports the House plan:

"Today, the Chairs of several Committees in the House of Representatives unveiled their health care reform proposal. This proposal would improve the affordability, availability, and quality of health care and represents a major step toward the our goal of fixing what is broken about health care while building on what works."

Posted by: chrismealy | June 19, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't find their version of the public option particularly strong at all. Too many "level playing field" provisions, especially the phase-out of tying reimbursements to Medicare rates. The result will be people paying a new VAT but not seeing any real containment of their insurance costs in return. That's political poison, and policy stupidity.

It's disheartening that even the House progressives haven't produced a proposal that's convincingly better than doing nothing until conditions are right for root-and-branch reform. I'm at the point of hoping the whole thing just dies. Given the wholesale corruption of our political system and the fact that the crisis is still not obvious enough to get the middle class out into the streets to force real change, it's premature.

Posted by: labonnes | June 19, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse


Someone needs to ask them to. I believe people are trying to get Rangel to do it.

Posted by: SteveCA1 | June 19, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"It will be much less viable for the Senate to scale back its legislation on grounds of cost if it has not included policies the Congressional Budget Office has scored as producing significant savings."

If you'll pardon my skepticism, it was also supposed to be much less viable for the GOP to significantly influence present policy if their recent past policies failed miserably. It's important not to underestimate the resourcefulness of the noise machine on an issue as complex and multifaceted as health care.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | June 19, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Well I think Ezra and some others have put the finger on the real issue.

The way the initial reporting rolled out the impression people got was that it was the inclusion of a public option that got you to $1.6 trillion while only covering 18 million more (1/3) of the uninsured. You had to dig deep to understand that it was the LACK of a public option that got you those dismal results.

At the time I thought the submission of an incomplete HELP plan for scoring was a huge mistake because it allowed the opponents of reform to claim some high ground. Now it begins to look like they have been led into a trap.

Remember Custer seized the high ground at Little Big Horn only to end up surrounded and cut off from escape.

I don't know if the sun has broken through the clouds here, but maybe we are seeing a paler shade of grey on the horizon.

Posted by: BruceWebb | June 20, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company