Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health Care Reform Update

I'm not blogging about politics as much lately... for various reasons... but the fact that the bill being brought to the floor in the Senate (reconciled from the HELP and Finance committee bills) has an "opt out" public option, is big enough news to make note of. Jonathan Cohn has the best roundup of the politics at play here:
It is not a full public option. It will not use reimbursements pegged to Medicare. As Ezra Klein says, it is still a major compromise for liberals. And yet it's also a lot more than liberals seemed likely to get, as recently as a few weeks ago.

Indeed, it is hard to overstate what a turnaround this is--or how quickly it happened. By late summer, passing any reform at all looked like a fifty-fifty proposition at best. And even as the political environment shifted, the public option looked doomed. It was going to take sixty votes to get a public option through the Senate. The votes just weren't there.

To be clear, they still aren't there.

What's most encouraging to me in this is that they're willing to move forward without Olympia Snowe's support... as Cohn notes, even a couple of weeks ago that was unfathomable. The White House seems to have prefered a less risky legislative strategy that kept her on board... and thus one that gave us a much weaker public option... but appear to be willing to let Harry Reid run with this, and see whether he can find his 60 votes. The idea that Harry freakin' Reid is pushing the Senate bill to the Left is the most shocking part of this whole endeavor... apparently he had a spinal transplant over the recess or something. Who'd have guessed?

There's still no guarantee that a strong public option will be in the final bill... read Cohn's post for details regarding the hurdles... but it's still such a hugely positive development for progressives (especially after the terribleness that was August) that I think it's fine if you do a little dance. I won't tell.