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Health Reform and the Public Plan

Editor’s note: How the Administration and Congress react to what they have heard and seen back home in their states and districts is going to be critical. Congress runs a double edge sword. If they appear to be ignoring the electorate it is quite likely that there will be repercussions far beyond an upcoming election. They claim mandates based on a couple of percentage points in general elections. The polls are showing that Americans are very uneasy with the current state of health care reform.

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MAYBE THE White House meant to signal that it was backing away from its commitment to a “public option” as part of new health insurance exchanges. Or maybe the hedging words of administration officials were over-interpreted on an otherwise sleepy Sunday morning in August. It doesn’t much matter, because, either way, the reality is that, if the Obama administration wants to get health reform done, it’s going to have to back away from the public option sooner or later — and it’s getting awfully late.

This is not a matter of ideology but of political nose-counting. The kind of comprehensive health reform that the president rightly wants — changes that would extend affordable coverage to millions of people and help slow the growth of health-care costs — requires 60 votes in the Senate. Democrats could muscle through some provisions with 50 votes, but a Senate rule limits how much can be done through that route. Measures such as establishing insurance exchanges or imposing new coverage requirements on insurance companies, as President Obama has been emphasizing, might be vulnerable to being stricken. And there’s no way to amass 60 votes with a public option in the bill.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/19/AR2009081903449.html?nav=hcmoduletmv

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August 21, 2009 - Posted by | Federal Government, healthcare | , ,

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