Health Care

Do GOP Senators Dream of Electric Sheep?
August 25, 2009

At the risk of extending a ghoulish conversation, I think Noam might be overestimating the humanity of Republican Senators when he concludes that it was a tactical mistake for Ted Kennedy to try to guarantee that his seat isn’t vacant for any period of time should he die in office:   If Kennedy were to pass away in the next few months, the Senate math on any health care vote would almost certainly get easier, not harder.

More on the Administration's Drug Deal
August 25, 2009

What kind of deal did the administration and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus make with the drug industry? And was it a good deal? I (try to) answer those questions in an article that appears in TNR's latest print edition--and is running on our (new!) home page today. As I note, albeit briefly because of the print edition's space constraints, three other articles advanced this story before I came along. One was a New York Times article, in which PhRMA chairman Billy Tauzin first spilled the beans about a key concession his group had secured.

If You're a Liberal and You Read One Thing Today...
August 24, 2009

...then please read Michael Tomasky. His analysis of the political situation is spot-on, as is his advice for the ambivalent left: liberals have to fight hard for something they're not terribly excited about. A health bill will likely have a very weak public option or it won't have one at all. But liberals will have to battle for that bill as if it's life and death (which in fact it will be for thousands of Americans), because its defeat would constitute a historic victory for the birthers and the gun-toters and the Hitler analogists.

Now the GOP Loves Medicare? It's So Hard to Keep Track...
August 24, 2009

Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. In this morning’s Washington Post, RNC chairman Michael Steele weighs in with what he modestly calls a “Seniors’ Health Care Bill of Rights.” Continuing on the death panel theme, Steele comes out against various mythical rationing measures no Democrat proposes or supports.

The Schiavo Saga and "Death Panels"
August 24, 2009

At HuffPo today, Sam Stein explores an irony that I've also been thinking about: many of the very conservatives who are ventilating claims that health care reform will interject the federal government into end-of-life decisions--with or without "death panels"--were hell-bent on Congress dictating an end-of-life decision in the infamous Terri Schiavo case in 2005: Some of the same conservative figures taking potshots at Democrats for wanting to fund voluntary discussions about end-of-life decisions between doctors and their patients were leading the charge four years ago to contravene the deci

Max Baucus Was for a Deadline Before He Was Against It
August 23, 2009

I just returned from a week long vacation, so my apologies if this has been covered. The worst news of a terrible week is that Max Baucus is even more pathetic than I thought, and believe me, I had set the bar extremely low. A few weeks ago, Max Baucus told his committee that if he had not reached a bipartisan agreement by September 15, he would go ahead and push a vote through his committee anyway. I hailed this as huge news.

Does It Matter Who Succeeds Ted Kennedy?
August 23, 2009

I know this is kind of a gruesome exercise, but since Sen. Kennedy himself initiated the discussion, I think it's within bounds to think through the political implications of his possible death in the next few months. Simply put, last week's proposal--having the Massachusetts governor appoint a caretaker senator until a special election could be held five months hence--was a tactical mistake. Why? Pretty much everyone assumes Kennedy's major concern is health care.

Scaling Back Reform: Dumb Policy, Dumber Politics
August 23, 2009

Senator Kent Conrad was back on television Sunday morning. This time the venue was “Face the Nation.” But the message was the same one he’s been delivering for a while: It’s time to scale back health care reform. “It’s going to have to be significantly less than what we’ve heard talked about,” Conrad said. Conrad was apparently referring to the bills three House committees and one Senate committee have already produced. Those bills called for federal outlays of around $1 trillion, or more, over the next ten years. They also called for the creation of a robust public insurance plan.

Sunday Morning Gotcha: Gregory Busts Hatch
August 23, 2009

Health care was the main topic of discussion on Meet the Press this morning. And at one point, Senator Orrin Hatch made a misleading, if all too familiar, claim. If reform includes a public insurance plan, Hatch said, tens of millions of people would lose their private insurance and enroll in the public plan instead. Hatch went on to say that both government and private-sector economists agree, citing one estimate that more than a hundred million people could end up in the government-run plan. The claim is misleading because the government and private-sector economists didn't say that.

Chucking Grassley
August 22, 2009

'We should not have a government plan that will pull the plug on grandma." That's not Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin talking. That's Charles Grassley, the supposedly respectable Republican senator from Iowa, speaking before a town hall in August. Grassley knows better, of course. As the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, he's been immersed in the issue for months.