Thursday, February 25, 2010

President sets a deadline on health reform

The health reform summit is over. The Republicans offered nothing new. Obama held his ground and demonstrated that he really understands health reform better than anyone in the room, Democrat or Republican.

What's the bottom line? The President has set the deadline for reform. Republicans have a month, six weeks at the max to either show that they will work seriously with the Democrats and the White House to reach a bipartisan agreement on revisions to the House and Senate health plans or he and the Democrats will go it alone, attempt to pass something like the Senate bill through reconciliation and let the voters decide with their votes in November who was right. The one thing that seems clear is that he is committed to moving ahead to get some kind of comprehensive reform done. He made it clear that starting over, as the Republicans have proposed, is not an option. He made it clear that he would not agree to take the option of going the reconciliation route off the table. He made it clear that he would not agree to allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines without regulation or the requirement to offer a minimum package of benefits. He made it clear that Republican proposals just to dump people with pre-existing conditions into high risk/high cost pools was not acceptable.

Will the Republicans make any serious effort to reach a bipartisan agreement? No. We knew that all along. But, Obama had to try. He did. Now, after giving the Repubs a few weeks in which they will offer no meaningful movement to compromise, he and the Democrats will move ahead with what they have known for some time that they had to do--either give up on health reform, which would be unacceptable both morally and politically, or move on their own to pass reform through reconciliation. They will go the reconciliation route.

Let's hope that one thing will now become part of the reconciliation package--the PUBLIC OPTION. It was taken out in the hope of getting Republican votes for reform. If there will be no Republican votes, there is no reason not to put the public option back in play. I hope the Democrats come to that conclusion. They should.

The Repubs had a good game plan today. They played to their supporters who will claim victory. It will be interesting to see how independents react to what happened today since they will make the difference in November.

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