Playing With House Money
January 07, 2010
If there’s one area in which the House health care reform bill is obviously superior to the Senate version, it’s coverage and affordability. There’s more financial assistance for buying insurance and much stronger protection against out-of-pocket medical costs. That means more people getting coverage and fewer people struggling with expenses. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her allies, both on and off Capitol Hill, have made clear this is one of their top priorities for the coming negotiations over how to merge the two pieces of legislation.
December 21, 2009
WASHINGTON--For progressives, the question on the health care battle going forward is not whether they have a right to be angry but whether they can direct their fury toward constructive ends. The alternative is to pursue a temporarily satisfying and ultimately self-defeating politics of protest. Of course what has happened on the health care bill is enraging. It's quite clear that substantial majorities in both houses of Congress favored either a public option or a Medicare buy-in. In a normal democracy, such majorities would work their will, a law would pass, and champagne corks would pop.
On Lieberman and His Critics
December 15, 2009
Charles Lane was my boss for two years and has been my friend ever since. Ezra Klein is also my friend, not to mention a writer whose work I follow closely. I admire and have learned from both, so it is with some trepidation I weigh into a debate they had in the online pages of the Washington Post over the last few days. The subject of the debate was Joe Lieberman and his demand that Senate Democrats drop a proposal that would allow some workers over 55 to buy coverage through Medicare.
What Public Option Supporters Won
December 15, 2009
The public option is dead this morning. And this time, it isn't coming back to life. The Senate isn't going to include any version of the idea in its bill. And while the House can still demand a public option in conference, nobody I know expects the House to prevail. The primary causes of death were the fierce opposition of special interests and the institutional habits of the United States Senate, in which a clear majority of senators representing an even clearer majority of the people lack the power to pass a bill. The time of death? Somewhere around 6:30 p.m.
Rockefeller Defends Lieberman
December 14, 2009
Exiting a caucus meeting this evening, Democratic Senators said that they were prepared to drop the Medicare buy-in to break the political impasse over the provision--a change that may be enough to win over Joe Lieberman. Jay Rockefeller, one of the health reform's leading liberal advocates, was adamant about describing the merits that the bill would have even without a public option compromise. "There are 500 things, and you take this one out, and you ask…could it have been better? Yeah.
Ten Questions About the Public Option Compromise
December 09, 2009
The deal, according to various sources including several with direct knowledge, is along the lines what you've been reading at Talking Points Memo, Politico, and other sources that broke the news last night: A Medicare buy-in for workers over 55, a network of national non-profit insurers administered through the federal Office of Personnel Management, some kind of a trigger, and insurance reforms that would force insurers to spend more money on actual medical care.
Rockefeller: Medicaid Expansion Is Out
December 08, 2009
While some are celebrating the newest public option compromise as a solution to the political deadlock on Capitol Hill, Senate leaders have already begun watering down some of the strongest elements of the new plan, which is combines a Medicare buy-in, a Medicaid expansion, and the inclusion of private non-profits in the exchange modeled on the federal employees’ plan. This afternoon, Jay Rockefeller said that the new proposal to expand Medicaid coverage for those who are 133% to 150% above the federal poverty line was dropped during a meeting of key legislators this morning.
A New Idea That's Old (But Still Good)
December 07, 2009
The ten liberal and moderate Democrats trying to hammer out a compromise on the public option are talking seriously about letting older workers pay to be enroll in Medicare. While doing so wouldn't qualify as creating a new public plan into which anybody could enroll, it would qualify as opening up an existing public plan to a group of people that might appreciate its many virtues. And that's certainly a good thing. Introducing new ideas at this relatively late stage of the debate is not exactly easy to do. But, then, this isn't exactly a new idea.
Baucus Bullish On The Climate Bill
November 06, 2009
Strong words from Montana's Max Baucus on the prospects of climate legislation passing within a year: Baucus insisted that the bill would cross the finish line, which would require both Senate passage and a successful conference with the House. "There’s no doubt that this Congress is going to pass climate change legislation," he said. "I don’t know if it’s going to be this year. Probably next year." That's fairly newsworthy, especially since, in recent weeks, various centrist Democrats have been talking about laying the issue aside for now.
Senate Dems to Obama: Um, a Little Help Here?
October 26, 2009
After a weekend of furious activity, Democratic leaders in the Senate think they are close to getting the votes they need in order to pass an "opt-out" version of the public option. But they feel like President Obama could be doing more to help them, with one senior staffer telling TNR on Sunday that the leadership would like, but has yet to receive, a clear "signal" of support for their effort. The White House, for its part, says President Obama supports a strong public option, as he always has--and that, as one senior administration official puts it, the president will support the Senate le