THE PLANK FEBRUARY 3, 2009
Over at The Treatment, Jonathan Cohn and Suzy Khimm offer their take on Daschle's departure from HHS. Jonathan Cohn sees the removal of Daschle as a serious but not permanent setback to health care reform as a whole:
Daschle had a direct line to Obama, a result of the relatively long relationship the two men had. That gave the health team clout. And clout matters at a time when, inevitably, budget resources are going to be scarce--and legislative priorities are still not definitive.
At the very least, a planning process that was not only well underway but starting to near completion will now have to go on hold, at least for a little while, as the administration cleans up the damage of this mess. One possible effect: Health care may not end up in the new budget, which doesn't necessarily preclude comprehensive reform this year but could make it more difficult. That's far from certain, however (or so I'm told).
And Suzy Khimm reports from the AcademyHealth's conference where health care experts are "reeling" from Daschle's withdrawal:
"Honest to god, I'm stupefied by this," said Marie Michnich from the Institute of Medicine, shortly after the news broke this afternoon. "Now, to see all the work that's been lost. We had a sense of how it was going to work--how we were going to coordinate [health care reform] with the White House. And now we're just spinning." Others seemed similarly flabbergasted. "No, no, no--oh no!" exclaimed Judith Leavitt, a writer for the American Journal of Nursing, who joined a group of conference-goers who were shaking their heads as they scanned their Blackberrys. "There was a lot of momentum. Now we're starting again from square one--this changes all the dynamics." Another conference attendee was even more despondent. "I'm going to go shoot myself now," he muttered as he headed for the hotel escalators.
Be sure to keep checking The Treatment for more on Daschle and all the latest health care coverage.