Tuesday, February 16, 2010

ObamaCare 2.0? Passing the Public Option through reconciliation

Four senators have signed a letter to Harry Reid urging him to use reconciliation to pass a Public Option. 
Four Democratic senators, including two facing potentially challenging election campaigns this year, are asking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to use reconciliation, a procedural maneuver requiring only 51 votes, to push for a public health insurance option.
Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) signed a letter to Reid saying they support this plan for four reasons: the cost savings the public option is estimated to achieve, continued public support for the public option, the need for increased competition in the insurance market and the Senate’s history of using the reconciliation process for health care reform.
“Put simply, including a strong public option is one of the best, most fiscally responsible ways to reform our health insurance system,” the letter says. “Although we strongly support the important reforms made by the Senate-passed health reform package, including a strong public option would improve both its substance and the public’s perception of it.” [MORE]
ObamaCare 1.0 is truly dead. There clearly are not enough Democrats willing to mess with that thing after Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts. However, trying to pass the popular parts of their plan, as a reworked version of healthcare reform, (i.e. ObamaCare 2.0) is still a viable option.

The three biggest stumbling blocks to reconciliation are:
  1. Can a Public Option be passed using the rules of reconciliation?  Remember reconciliation is for budgetary procedures; legislation for a Public Option might not fit into those confines.
  2. Are there 50 Democrats willing to use the reconciliation? Reconciliation will look like doing an end run around the will of the people. Even with all these retirements that have produced Dead Men Walking (senators who do not have to face the wrath of the voters come November) are there still 50 Democrats willing to try reconciliation?
  3. Is there enough time?  Since reconciliation allows for unlimited amendments, Republicans can draw out the process indefinitely by simple offering one amendment after another. 

Personally, I don’t see this idea going through, but the concept of scaling back ObamaCare 1.0 just enough to make it palpable to both the House and Senate Democrats could be a problem. Democrats are desperate for something to run on in November and a scaled down version of ObamaCare might be their only option at this point.


McJenny said...

Sherrod Brown is one of my Senators. I guess all the emails and faxes I have sent to him haven't made a difference - he is still an a$$.

Clifton B said...


I think I know someone who will be voting him out! ;-)

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