A few more health care thoughts

1) All the public option absolutists should be tied up and forced read Jacob Hacker– the political scientist who basically invented the public option– advocate for passing the final bill.  Key point– work for more subsidies/affordability; we can still make progress there.  

2) Did the Republicans totally misplay their cards?  Jonathan Chait says yes.  Key point: Democratic moderates were so desperate for a "bipartisan" bill, that they would have been willing to sign off on pretty weak reform– much weaker than we got– if only some Republicans had been willing to actually (rather than pretend to) play ball.

3) Speaking of which, was Olympia Snowe actually acting in good faith earlier, or simply doing her best to remain the belle of the press corps ball as a beloved Senate "moderate"?  The final Senate bill has pretty much everything she wanted, so she's left to explain her "no" vote by saying the process was too rushed.  Riiiight– it was too quick. 

4) Pretty interesting story of how the Dem Senators finally worked out a bill with Ben Nelson on abortion.  It's pretty ridiculous, with all that's at stake in this, how much attention has been focused on such a tangential issue to the major aspects of health care reform. 

5) Nonetheless, Bart Stupak has now vowed to deny health insurance to millions of people because he doesn't like the Senate compromise.  I wish bad things for him.

It’s going to happen

As much of a health policy junkie as I've become, I have to admit I was a little surprised with myself at just how excited I was by today's news that the Senate has reached a deal and will pass health care legislation this week.  But, this is a really big deal.  This is the biggest progressive legislation since the Great Society, and most importantly, will bring health insurance (and thus better health) to millions and millions of Americans who previously had to do without.  That is a great thing.  Of course it's not a done deal yet, but in many ways getting the 60 Senators has always been the hardest part.  Of course, if you care half as much about health policy as me, you've already read Ezra Klein's take on this today, as he continues to do yeoman's work on the issue.  That said, a couple of comments:

  • I was a little annoyed by the Post's coverage.  Headline: "Democrats reach deal"; subhead: "GOP excoriates bill."   The average, not particularly informed reader will take from that frame that Democrats have reached agreement on some awful piece of legislation.  Obviously, I don't think that is the most appropriate frame.  Ultimately, just another example of the incredibly pernicious and destructive "he said, she said" bias of the media.  (From what I've seen, the reporter on this, Shailagh Murray, is absolutely the stereotypical lazy and irresponsible journalist in this respect).  It's as if they cannot simply admit this is good news for Democrats (and Americans, quite frankly) without the countervailing GOP spin. 
  • The big GOP complaint: Medicare cuts: damn, that's rich.  Just got to love the party always railing against government waste and inefficiency is so upset because this bill tries to create major cost savings through reducing waste and (mostly) inefficiency in Medicare.
  • The Times has a nice little feature comparing the House and Senate versions.  It would be great to see the final bill take the best of both.  I was just looking at the "public option" part and just shaking my head that recent events have caused so much liberal strife.  The public option in the House Bill is a pale imitation of a real public option (negotiated rates, rather than Medicare rates) that simply would have done nothing to control costs.  Would I rather have it, you betcha, because you can build on it; but to take this weak tea of a public option and make it the end all and be all was always just ridiculous and showed substantial ignorance of how health policy works.  
  • On to the Christmas Eve vote.  Why Republicans insist on drawing it out that long is beyond me.  But alas, they are pulling every stupid trick in the book of the world's most dysfunctional (un)representative body.  Don't they want to be home with their families?  Why do Republican Senators hate Christmas?

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