Susan Collins's health-care wish list
According to Politico, Susan Collins met with the White House on Monday to offer her list of demands for health-care reform. And they sound, well, pretty good. "The senator said she put several amendment requests on the table: raising the penalty on hospitals with high rates of hospital-acquired infections, changing the small-business tax credit to prevent it from discouraging hiring and increasing wages and boosting the affordability of insurance."
The devil is in the details, of course, but this stuff is all supportable. The big exception is if Collins attempts to achieve affordability by watering down the basic benefits package. That doesn't make health-care insurance "more affordable" so much as it makes it "less useful," which really isn't the point of this exercise. But if Collins is willing to make insurance more affordable by increasing the subsidies, then that's all for the good.
Collins's support could lead to other improvements, as well. As Suzy Khimm notes, pulling Collins and Snowe onto the bill could leave you with a better bill. Ben Nelson, for instance, is drafting a "Stupak-like" amendment, while Collins and Snowe are both pro-choice. If one of them is willing to be the 60th vote, Nelson will have a tougher time taking abortion rights hostage.
But to flip that around, the issue isn't simply that Snowe and Collins are pro-choice, so Democrats should want them on the bill. If Snowe and Collins are pro-choice, they should want to be on the bill. It's pretty clear that neither of them loathe this legislation, and pretty clear that their presence could be decisive in preventing Nelson from helping Stupak rid primary insurance of abortion coverage. Naive as it is to say, it's a chance to make a very big difference on an issue that both have historically held quite dear.
Photo credit: By Harry Hamburg/Associated Press
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