This is the second of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform. (Click here to read part one.) Be sure to come back Monday for the third installment, which examines just how nasty negotiations got in Congress—bruised egos, threatened careers, the works. Workhorses It was an intimate gathering at Ted Kennedy’s home in Washington—just the senator, his colleague Max Baucus, and three senior staffers who worked with them on health care.
When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.