The Massachusetts Massacre has everyone stepping back a bit. The President says that we should “coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on,” but it is unclear just which elements those might be, given the extreme polarization that has defined the debate. He suggests that points of agreement might center on insurance reform and cost containment, which are both important goals. I’m skeptical that a sudden flowering of bipartisanship will allow such agreement, however. Ezra Klein, on the other hand, has a paring proposal that goes in another direction, and reminds us of why we got into this in the first place: to extend coverage to the uninsured. If we must narrow our focus, Klein says we should extend Medicare to those over 50, and expand Medicaid to those under 200% of poverty. This would get lots of people insured, and could well be accomplished through budget reconciliation if no Congressional coalescing is to be had.
However the parsing, paring, and palavering goes, cost control is and will be at or near the health reform debate for years to come. Two recent articles are worth a look for those interested in analysis of cost-containment strategies.