Saturday, June 20, 2009

Nancy's Victory

This week the Senate efforts on health care reform resembled a keystone kops movie.  Mark-ups began in the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions committee on a bill that did not include a public option and was preliminarily scored by the Congressional Budget to cost more and covered fewer people than hoped.  Over in the Finance Committee, the 1st draft of their bill does not include a public option or employer mandate but it does include reduced Medicaid coverage, an individual mandate, and instead of a public plan it included health co-ops.  The most charitable description of the Finance Committee's draft was that it represents "comprehensive incrementalism." 

Then yesterday the House presented its health care proposal.  In an effort to reduce turf battles, the Ways and Means, the Commerce and Energy, and the Education and Labor Committees all combined to produce a joint bill called "tri-committee" plan.  This bill is much more in line with progressive goals.  It includes a public plan, increased Medicaid Coverage, and a insurance exchange.  The House has now staked out a progressive position and Speaker Pelosi declared that she is committed to a public plan.

If a progressive healthcare reform bill passes then it will be a victory for liberals in the House.  People like Speaker Pelosi, Ways and Means chair Charlie Rangel, Education and Labor Chair George Miller, Commerce and Energy Chair Henry Waxman, Rep. John Dingell will have done most of the work to get health reform passed.

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