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How health-care reform could pass go, skip conference committee

The expectation is that after the Senate passes its health-care reform bill, it will enter into negotiations with the House to merge the two bills. But maybe not! If the Senate passes a bill the House can live with, the House can pass it with no changes, and the bill can head right to the president's desk. That would allow health-care reform to be signed before the year's end, and protect Democrats from a replay of August during the holiday recess, or any of the endless unforeseen problems that can crop up at any time.

Will this happen? I doubt it. The House isn't likely to swallow the Senate bill with no changes. But if they could somehow work their changes out in advance, Reid could potentially add them in through a manager's amendment. That also seems unlikely, but Ryan Grim explains how it would work.

Update: Greg Sargent reports that House liberals are not amused.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 8, 2009; 3:25 PM ET
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Whadda' say about a company that reduces your pay, then freezes it for 7 years while requiring higher copays and placing limits on lifetime drug cost that were never there before. Renigging on a contract that offers medical insurance to the retiree (that has paid for it with reduced wages) at reasonable cost and ends up being 10 times more expensive than a BC-BS private plan.
Wages going down with benefits going up and visa-versa does not always hold true.

Posted by: Jake22 | December 8, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

HA! could happen, but there are a boatload of ifs. If the negotiations for the Medicare expansion come out with the 60 dem votes needed for cloture, maybe. Then there is the abortion problem. Nelson seems adamant about including it, and it seems dems would maybe add it to managers amendment in some form to let it not kill the bill. But doubtful House liberals will go along with something like the Stupak amendment language. Though Nelson has reportably given secret hand signals he may not filibuster without it. Yabbity daggity doo. Too much hypothetical, but there also seems like a faint atmosphere of "lets get this done" is wafting thru the dem caucus, the kind that maybe allows egos and ideology to not get in the way. It has happened in our history before when backs were against the wall, when the witching hour arrived to act.

And since dems have the numbers, albeit with no room for error, it could happen without the raucus conference process and the following blood fight on the Senate floor, and maybe the House too.

Since roughly 80 percent of abortions are paid out of pocket anyway, and with some out with cheap rider policies covering abortion for those who desire it, then..... maybe. Who knows. But I think it is a good thing this thing is coming to a head in the run up to Xmas. Holiday spirits are good for getting good things done. Sometimes,

Posted by: arnold104 | December 8, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

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