Analysis of Current Senate Compromise on Health Care

December 10, 2009 at 6:15 am Leave a comment

From the LA Times

“The new proposal for breaking the healthcare impasse in the Senate — based on a large expansion of the Medicare program — raised hopes Wednesday among Democrats that the way may be clearing to pass their massive bill by Christmas.

The deal, which emerged late Tuesday night after days of negotiations among a group of 10 Democratic senators, dropped the idea of a government-run insurance program. Moderates saw such a program as the first step toward a government takeover of the insurance system.

But by enlarging Medicare eligibility to Americans 55 and older, from the current 65, the bill has attached itself to an existing government plan, the huge and hugely popular federal health insurance program for seniors. Potentially millions of Americans could sign up for a program that has been embraced by both parties as a safety net for the country’s retirees.

The notion that the Senate healthcare bill might have suddenly expanded its base of political support quickly took hold Wednesday. President Obama endorsed the compromise. Many liberals who had been disappointed in the derailing of a government-run plan, the so-called “public option” that would compete with private insurers, hailed the Medicare expansion idea”

Personally, I am very wishy-wishy on this deal. I favor a strong, public option that has cost containment.  While it offers Medicare to people over the age of 55, it does not do enough for people who are under 55.  It tables the public option in favor of hybrid national plans to be regulated by the government but administered by private corporations or nonprofit.The current plan does not address the rapidly increasingly price of medical costs.  It does not place any serious cost control on the private sector that would a strong public option does.

I  think this deal neeeds further amendments before it completed.  This “compromise” is not what the final bill look like in conference but rather a bill designed to get 60 votes.  Once in conference, the negotiators could decide to use the “public option” in the House Bill and therefore, the public option is included in the final bill. Once the Senate decides to vote on the merged bill, it only takes 50 votes to pass the bill and the Dems have 50 votes in the Senate for a public option.



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