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Healthcare: Moving Reform to the Center

Editor’s note: The are positive aspects to all sides of the debate. We have to take the best of both – access, cost and quality. The American people deserve nothing less.

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Still, just seven months into the Obama administration, there is an emerging consensus among the majority Democrats about what is wrong with the healthcare system and what can be fixed.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), a centrist, said after a recent party caucus that broad agreement had developed to shore up Medicare subsidies for prescription drugs and to make it harder for insurance companies to limit coverage based on preexisting conditions.

“The prospects for incremental improvement are still reasonably good,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster close to the congressional leadership. “But there’s a lot more realism about how hard this is.”

One focus now is the Senate Finance Committee, the panel charged with deciding not just how to reshape health policy but how to pay for it. All previous committee votes on healthcare this year have been along party lines. The finance committee, where talks will continue in the coming month, is the last forum in which Democrats hope to forge a sturdy bipartisan compromise.

The political price: Any bipartisan agreement would probably abandon a proposal from liberals to create a government-sponsored insurance option as an alternative to private health insurance.

The August congressional recess is a crucial period. Democrats hope to use the time to build support for the healthcare bill by telling voters what’s in it for them. Conservative critics are packing town hall meetings with people arguing that President Obama’s plans amount to a government takeover of healthcare.

Democrats have said that those crowds have been organized by Republicans and their allies, and that they do not reflect genuine grass-roots opposition. But national polls indicate that Democrats have a real political problem: The more people learn about the healthcare legislation, the less they seem to like it.

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August 9, 2009 - Posted by | Federal Government, healthcare | , , , ,

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