Most of you know John Garamendi (if you know him at all) as the former California state official who won a special election for Ellen Tauscher's old seat in Congress. But those of us in the business of health wonkery know him as one of our own.
In the early 1990s, he developed the "Garamendi plan" for California, which later became a model for the Clinton health care plan of 1993-94. (One of Garamendi's deputies, Walter Zelman, worked closely with my old boss, Paul Starr, on the design.) As insurance commissioner, Garamendi accumulated extensive experience dealing with health insurers--and has the scars to show for it.
Hopefully, Garamendi will arrive in time to provide one more "yes" vote on health care reform, as he's promised to do. More important, he will be around afterwards, when Congress will have to watch over the implementation of whatever is passed--and, as necessary, enact changes to fix the problems. Garamendi's expertise could come in handy.