Suzy Khimm

House Dems Still Coming Up Short
October 27, 2009

Following the Senate’s big news yesterday on the public option, some House progressives have been feeling bullish about the chances for the strong version of the public plan, as I reported yesterday. But they aren’t quite there yet. After a House Democratic caucus meeting this morning, Representative Raul Grijalva said that the House had between 206 and 210 votes to support the strong version of the public option, which would reimburse providers based on Medicare plus 5 percent. “It’s still being contemplated,” he told me this afternoon.

Will Reid's Decision Push the House Leftward?
October 26, 2009

Many liberals are hailing Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s decision to pick the opt-out version of the public option over the trigger as a progressive victory. Representative Lynn Woolsey, co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus agrees--and thinks there’s no reason the House shouldn’t go even farther, and include a strong public option in its bill. Of course, we already know the House bill will be stronger than even the version that Reid endorsed today. It will be a national plan, with all states participating from the start.

White House Official Touts the Excise Tax, Still Fuzzy on Public Option
October 26, 2009

Is it curtains for the strong public option? Over the past week, the White House has taken a lot of heat for not going to bat for it, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has reportedly just decided that the Senate bill will include a watered-down proposal that would allow states to opt out of a national public plan.

Making Sure the States Don't Pay (Too Much) for Reform
October 24, 2009

The House is still deliberating between two versions of the public option, as Cohn laid out earlier: a stronger version that would tie public option pay rates to Medicare “plus 5” percentage points, and a weaker version that would have negotiated rates, but also separately raise Medicaid eligibility from 133% to 150% percent above the poverty line to save money.

AHIP Gets Punk'd!
October 23, 2009

Slipping their way past the tight security at the Capitol Hilton, liberal activists from a group called “Billionaires for Wealthcare” interrupted AHIP pollster Bill McInturff as he took the stage for the closing speech of the insurance lobby’s conference this morning. About five activists who had infiltrated the conference, wearing business suits and pearls, burst out into a rendition of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie. “Just give me a pu-blic option! We can sniff out waste just like a dauschaund—costs come down!” they sang to the insurer-friendly audience. “The option, the option!

Raise Your Pitchforks to the Sky (Health-Care Edition)
October 22, 2009

“Are they going to try to storm the building?” a man in a dark business suit asked a colleague inside the Capitol Hilton ballroom, during a break in the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) conference this afternoon. “Or are we not going to let that happen?” Directly outside the Hilton's well-guarded doors, about a hundred protesters had gathered to denounce the rapacious insurance executives they believed to be inside the Hilton.

AHIP Insists It's Still a Friend of Health Reform. Really!
October 22, 2009

Speaking beneath the twinkling crystal chandeliers of the Capitol Hilton ballroom this morning, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) president Karen Ignagni declared that the insurance industry is still on board with the Democratic health care reform effort, pushing back against the presumption that the two sides have declared war. “Our community was one of the first to position ourselves very actively to a massive overhaul of the insurance market,” Ignagni told the audience members, who were attending the organization’s conference on state insurance issues.

Tom Coburn Wants a Gay-GOP Alliance. Seriously?
October 20, 2009

In their latest attempt to turn the tide against the public plan, some Republicans have begun trying to appeal to gay Americans to join their anti-government crusade. As The Hill notes today, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has co-authored an op-ed blasting “government-run health care” for The Advocate, the leading LGBT magazine. Together with his co-author, GOProud’s Christopher Barron, Coburn rails against the Ryan White CARE Act for forcing AIDS patients onto waiting lists to receive life-saving drugs from a government program.

How Baucus Would Make Health Care More Affordable
October 19, 2009

How can Obamacare make insurance more affordable for Americans, given the current state of the reform bill? One approach--supported by many progressives--is to raise the insurance subsidies provided to lower-income families. The other is to shrink the benefits package that insurance companies are required to provide. In a conference call organized this afternoon by Families USA, Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus explained exactly what the latter might look like.

Harkin: Senate Dems Looking at House Funding Ideas
October 16, 2009

The big question looming over reform negotiations in the Senate is how to pay for expanding insurance coverage. The Senate Finance bill calls for an excise tax, to be levied on plans with generous benefits. But many Democrats don't like the idea. So will they scale it back? And, if so, can they will come up with an alternative?