The Treatment

Specter A Yes Vote On Health Reform?

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Ezra Klein thinks Arlen Specter is looking more and more like a "yes" vote on health reform.

There were, Ezra notes, some curious references to health care in Specter's press conference on Tuesday and Obama's on Wednesday night. And then there's Specter's own recent history:

Arlen Specter has had a tough few years. In 2005, he was diagnosed
with an advanced form of Hodgkin's lymphoma. Chemotherapy took months.
His hair fell out. His friend John Sununu shaved his own head in
solidarity. But treatment was successful, or seemed so. In 2008,
however, the cancer returned. His second round of treatment ended last
July. It's been, in other words, a few years of the sort that leave you
rather impressed with the importance of health care coverage. And that
seems to have been Specter's takeaway. In his press conference yesterday,
he ticked off his interests in this order: "I’ve been deeply involved
in health care reform, and global warming, climate control, and
immigration, and will continue to be so." A paragraph later, he said
that "one matter that especially concerns me is medical research."

And it's not just rhetoric. When Specter helped broker the stimulus
deal, he took a special interest in funding medical research. His
centrality to the compromise was singularly responsible for $10 billion
going to the National Institute of Health.

Me? I think Ezra is right.

--Jonathan Cohn 

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