Tag: Bi-partisan

Centrists Back Health Care Reform

The tone on Capitol Hill during Tuesday’s debate was more civil, the partisan rhetoric less harsh than previous exchanges on the House floor. But there’s little doubt that the Republican-led House will vote later today to repeal President Obama’s signature health care reform law.

That largely symbolic vote – there’s almost no likelihood the Democratic Senate will follow, nor would the president sign the bill – signals the start of a two-year campaign by newly empowered Republicans in the House to undermine the new law. Proponents of “repeal and replace” will next turn to eliminating the most unpopular elements of the law—including the individual mandate – and to cutting off funding for implementation.

But the administration won a powerful set of centrist allies on Tuesday as it scrambled to set in motion reforms that it believes will be popular with the American people once its key provisions go into effect. The new law, signed by Obama last March,  is designed to provide about 32 million previously-uninsured Americans with coverage either through Medicaid or subsidized private insurance sold through state-based insurance exchanges. The total cost of the program of about $900 billion will be paid for by a combination of tax increases and slower growth in Medicare spending.  The law also places consumer-friendly restrictions on insurance carriers, funds Medicare pilot models in alternative care delivery, and creates a government-run long-term care insurance program.

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A Bipartisan Agreement on Health Care Was Possible in 2009

Readers of this blog have often heard me say that a bipartisan agreement on a health care bill was possible in 2009–driven from the Senate Finance Committee. I have continually made the point that the two sides were much closer than is commonly believed–or partisans are willing to concede.

Every time I post this, the overwhelming reaction is that I am wrong–with one side inevitably blaming the other for a lack of good faith in the discussions.

Bara Vaida had an interview in Friday’s Kaiser Health News with Mark Hayes, who was the lead Republican health staffer on Senate Finance at the time and had a “clear view” of the negotiations.

Here are the key excerpts:

Q: [Vaida] Key Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently said their biggest regret was allowing the Senate Finance Committee leaders, your former boss Sen. Grassley and committee chair Max Baucus, D-Mont., to spend so much time trying to forge a bipartisan compromise on health care. What do you think about that criticism?

A: [Hayes] We really devised much of the health care framework even before the Gang of Six Senate (Finance Committee) leaders started meeting. In the summer of 2008, Sens. Grassley and Baucus held a summit and we were chugging along with planning our roundtables and it is my understanding that the leadership was frustrated with us that we were moving too quickly and they wanted us to slow down. We got agreement on 80 percent of the framework even before the Gang of Six started meeting to take on the remaining 20 percent. People were naturally impatient but the complexity of the job, connecting the dots and making the model work is a huge challenge so those who pushed for it to be done quickly were watching the clock and likely didn’t have a full appreciation for the issues we were attempting to resolve. The idea that the health care law could be done quickly and be done right is like saying you can go to the moon on the first try.

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