Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What to focus on during the health care "debate"

The August break, which could be the make-or-break period for health care, is almost half over. And while it is fun to watch the crazies turn out and get in Congresscritters' faces, it is all a big distraction. My sense is that the behavior of these "grassroots protesters" may be great theater for the press to cover, but all it is doing is annoying the members of Congress that are holding town halls. It isn't changing minds of the members of Congress whom they are protesting. Congresscritters are more scared of the TV ads being run in their states/districts.

Rather than go over plowed ground, let's talk about what people that care about health care should be focusing on.
  1. What does the House bill look like?
  2. Right now, there are three house bills that made it out of committee that make up the health care reform bill. It will be up to those committee chairs, the Rules Committee, and the Speaker and other Democratic House leaders to merge the bill. This bill will not tell us what the final bill will look like, but it will be a sense of what the most liberal version of the bill possible will likely be.

  3. When does the Senate Finance Committee's "Gang of Six" finish its bill?
  4. If it is before October, there will be enough time to merge that bill with the HELP Committee bill and vote on it in the Senate. If it continues to dither, who knows what will happen.

  5. Who sits on the Conference Committee?
  6. That is, will strong liberal policy makers, like Sen. Kennedy and Rep. Waxman, be named to that merge the differences between the House and Senate bill (and create a new bill all together)? Or will a milquetoast "bipartisan" Democrat be named like Sen. Baucus? How many "gang members" will be on the committee?

These pieces of information will tell us what health care reform will actually look like, and whether it stands a chance of happening this year. Personally, I think something will get passed. It might not be like the Clinton or Edwards plans, or really like the Obama plan during the primaries, but it will be a hell of a lot better than the do-nothing plan.

Here's an NYT chart that explains it all:
Here are the possible areas of compromise, according to that article:

No comments: