Health-care-bill strategy: Get it done

WASHINGTON — Democrats and Republicans may not agree on what the strategy for health care reform should be, but they do seem to be almost unanimous on what it has become: Get it done now, by any means possible.

Here’s Republican Rep. John Kline, writing in Roll Call Monday: “Democrats have stubbornly continued their go-it-alone strategy that creates the false choice of radical changes to health care or no changes at all.”

And here’s President Barack Obama, speaking to a crowd at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa.: “The United States Congress owes the American people a final, up or down vote on health care. It’s time to make a decision. The time for talk is over. We need to see where people stand.”

The goal is to have a vote in the House by the end of next week, when Obama leaves for a trip to Guam, Indonesia and Australia. After that, a “fix bill” would be passed by both the House and Senate by Easter recess, requiring the Senate to use reconciliation rules to ensure they only need 51 votes, rather than the 60 that would be required to break an almost-certain Republican filibuster attempt.

Somewhere along the way Obama would sign both bills (the original Senate bill first, so that the “fix” would trump it as the later legislation), and then turn his attention to the economy in the run-up to the mid-term elections.

It’s hard to know whether Democrats can actually meet that timeline — MinnPost’s D.C. office doesn’t contain a crystal ball — but that’s the plan right now.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 03/10/2010 - 11:07 am.

    I’m with the House members who are afraid to vote for the Senate bill BEFORE any changes are made to it.

    For now, the better course might an insurance industry reform bill that gets rid of the abuses we all know about and also institutes tough, really tough, price regulations that put an instant stop to annual rate increases unsupported by anything except greed.

    Much of Europe considers health insurance a common good to be regulated like a public utility, just as we regulate electrical power producers in Minnesota. There’s no reason we can’t do the same EXCEPT the push to pass the Senate bill no matter what and various deals made with the companies.

  2. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 03/14/2010 - 01:51 pm.

    The underlying question with respect to health insurance is whether additional companies help or hinder.

    If administration costs due to overlapping systems, different forms, varying payment amounts, etc. are huge, then even if my local credit union would finance my health insurance venture, the system would just be made worse.

    Some industries benefit from competition (say, auto manufacture) while others don’t so much (say, sewage sanitation). The underlying question is which category does health insurance belong to?

    My gut sense — as well as that of many Americans — is that a single governmental payer with multiple competing private providers would be the most efficient. A gut sense that comes from observing the real-world experience of other countries with similar systems.

    But hey, let’s explore the underlying data. Except that it’s evidently really hard to obtain…

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