What Does This Mean for Health Care?
January 20, 2010
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Now that Massachusetts has sent Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate, what is next for ObamaCare? The way I see it, they have three options – two won’t be pretty, and the third is a political surrender.
Ram the Senate-passed health care bill through the House of Representatives, as is, so it can then go straight to the President for his signature. This seems the most obvious choice, for the way the rules are written in the lower chamber – majority rules, period.
The problem with this scenario is that there are several House Democrats who have unequivocally said that they cannot and will not accept the Senate bill as is. That includes Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). With the House having passed their version of health care reform 220-215 back in November, it only takes three Democrats to switch their vote. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that these three are really closer to 20-30 in numbers.
The Senate could go back and pass the bill in several pieces through a process called reconciliation — meaning they need just 51 votes to pass. But Senate rules limit their contents to provisions that affect the federal budget. So any policy initiatives within their health care reform would be removed.
Start over! If the Democrats in the Senate would approach the GOP and offer real reform and compromise, they could easily get 65+ votes for health care reform. Things that must be on the table – tort reform, no tax increases, no special treatment for labor, and no public option or trigger.
If Dems can offer that, they will truly have a bipartisan health care reform bill.