Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is it really happening?

Looks like:
A broad consensus on the contours of legislation to remake the nation’s health care system appeared to be developing among Democratic leaders on Tuesday as three House committee chairmen outlined a bill generally similar to one being written in the Senate.
Of course, some of those pesky details need to be ironed out:

Democratic leaders in both houses said they would require individuals to carry insurance and employers to help pay for it. But they have yet to decide how to raise the necessary tax revenue.

Leaders in both chambers said they wanted to establish a new public health insurance program, which would compete with private insurers. But they have not settled on the details.

The House legislation looks likely to have the public option, whereas it's still not clear whether there's enough support in the Senate for more than a "trigger" or water-downed version.

Still, the progress is encouraging, as is the news that President Obama will soon take on a greater role in the push for reform (no doubt helped by things like this). It looks like he is ready to compromise on the idea of a mandate (which he fought with Hillary Clinton on during the primaries) and taxing at least some health benefits (which John McCain proposed during the general election), but he thankfully is coming out solidly behind a public option, which will be necessary to get the votes of conservative Dems in the Senate. Whatever comes out of Congress won't be perfect, but it will be a lot better than what we have now.

I don't know if we'll get this legislation by the August recess as the White House wants, but they are right to push for it. If it doesn't happen this year, it might not happen (same goes for the climate bill and immigration reform). Next year are the mid-terms and after that people start running for president. It's now or never. The good thing is there's reason to be cautiously optimistic that health care reform is - finally - going to happen.

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