Fundamental Differences Displayed

Heritage’s Ed Haislmaier sums up the fundamental issue on display at yesterday’s healthcare snoozefest:

The overriding reality behind this summit is that both the public and the politicians come to the table divided not over the details but rather over the basic approach to health reform. In his comments, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) highlighted three of those major divisions — comprehensive legislation versus incremental legislation, starting over versus pressing ahead with the bills passed in House and Senate in December, and a decentralized approach versus a centralized federal solution. Today’s debate showed few indications of a willingness by the President or the Congressional leadership to alter their basic approach. Though the summit served to highlight the fact that both parties are in favor of reform, differing only in their opinions on how to achieve it, the direction of the health care debate is unlikely to deviate from the course it has taken for the past year as a result of today’s discussion.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the Obama Administration does have a lower cost “Plan B” that would seem more likely to receive bi-partisan support:

The pared-down bill would cost about a quarter of the 10-year, $950 billion plan Obama put on the table on Monday, sources told Fox News.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Thursday that Obama’s staff had prepared the blueprint for a smaller-scale plan. Sources said the backup would extend coverage to about 15 million people, or half the number the larger plan would cover.
It would expand Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, while allowing people to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26.
But the idea of what one congressional Democrat called “skinny” health care reform may encounter stiff resistance in the House.
“Inaction and incrementalism are simply unacceptable,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in remarks released before Thursday’s summit. House Democrats are almost sure to reject calls for a scaled-back bill.
“We are going forward with a big bill,” a top Democrat told Fox News.

So, the Democrats are still going to use reconciliation to pass an omnibus reform package (and the ProJo editors celebrate!) and face the consequences, if any, in November.

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