Health Care

This Is Why You're Here
March 16, 2010

Slate's Will Saletan responds to pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen--and everybody else telling the Democrats not to support health care reform because it might not play well in November: Losing your job is a scary idea. It's natural to look for a way out. It's also natural to rationalize your self-preservation. You aren't really caving; you're just serving the public by heeding the polls. Isn't that a legislator's job? No. It isn't. Your job description is in the nation's founding documents. The Constitution specifies representative democracy, not direct democracy.

Nancy Pelosi’s Theory of Change
March 16, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a longtime advocate for universal health care. She’s also demonstrated that she has a good feel for the politics of her chamber and her party, simply by passing so many major pieces of legislation this year.

Pelosi Explains the Way Forward
March 15, 2010

It looks like the coming House vote on health care reform will be the decisive one after all. As of this weekend, sources including House leadership aides indicated that the House might pass health care reform under a special procedure, effectively making enactment of the legislation contingent upon the Senate passing amendments to its original bill. Some House members favor this approach because they don't trust the Senate and don't like the Senate bill.

What's Been Taking So Long?
March 15, 2010

From Politico's Pulse: The weekend included high drama for the drug industry as lobbyists huddled with Democratic staffers to work out a fee structure and donut-hole fix that wouldn’t bust the $90-billion commitment they made to pay for reform, industry sources said. Drug makers were asked to sign off on multiple solutions so that backup options were available should any of the fixes run into problems passing muster with the Senate parliamentarian.

Down to the Wire
March 14, 2010

The roll call was less than twenty-four hours away. And the votes still weren’t there. It was more than eight months ago--June 25, 2009--and the White House was hosting a luau on the South Lawn for members of Congress and their families. But with the House set to vote on cap-and-trade the next day, key members of the president’s staff and House leaders were huddling about how to proceed. There was even some talk of postponing the vote, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation. In the end, the administration and House leadership decided to go ahead.

Avoid This Contingency Plan
March 13, 2010

If all goes as planned, next weekend the House of Representatives will vote on health care reform. That much we know. But on what actual bill or bills will the House vote? And what's likely to happen next? Those are critical questions and, on Saturday, several sources said that no final decision had been made. Broadly speaking, the House has to do two things next weekend.

The Best Way Forward
March 13, 2010

Harold Pollack is the Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a Special Correspondent for The Treatment. More in sorrow than in anger, Washington Times editorialists are concerned that President Obama doesn't do enough to control costs. The Times particularly chides the President for delaying the proposed "Cadillac tax" on costly insurance plans. One original cost-control measure was to impose a tax on high-quality insurance, dubbed Cadillac plans….

'We Will Likely Vote Friday or Saturday'
March 12, 2010

Somewhere in the White House or Capitol Hill, I imagine, is a whiteboard that looks like this: August recess September Columbus Day Thanksgiving Christmas New Year's State of the Union Valentine's Day St. Patrick's Day And now passing health care reform by St. Patrick's Day, which is next Wednesday, seems impossible.

The Public Option, Still Dead
March 12, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just declared that the public option is dead. Again. And she's right. Again. For the last few weeks, public option advocates have waged a heroic campaign to revive the public option by getting individual Senators to endorse it. The idea was to take advantage of the reconciliation process, in which fifty-plus-one senators can pass legislation without getting filibustered. The public option never got 60 votes in the Senate; that's why it didn't end up in the final Senate bill. But it got a lot more than 50. But things are not so simple.

Grains of Salt, Keep Them Handy
March 12, 2010

A while ago Ezra Klein said he wasn't obsessively following the declarations of every member, in part because everybody would be posturing and he couldn't take their statements at face value. He's got the right idea. It's hard to ignore what members say and, surely, often those statements have actual news value. But, at a time like this, you should assume that anything a lawmaker says may not be indicative of how that lawmaker atually feels--or, at least, how that lawmaker will feel in a few days.