Feature

Health care reform’s endgame

Now that the House and Senate both have health-care bills to vote on, the final round begins

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dropped a 1,990-page bill into the health care overhaul mix, where it joins the Senate plan recently outlined by Majority Leader Harry Reid. The House bill includes a public option, expands Medicaid, and covers 96 percent of Americans, at a 10-year net cost of $894 billion—though the Congressional Budget Office says it will reduce the deficit over 20 years. Besides whipping up votes, what’s left to work out?

The final countdown starts: Nancy Pelosi has started the clock on health-care reform, say Patrick O’Connor and Chris Frates in Politico. And while House Democrats are “bullish” about passing the bill by Nov. 11, they have some internal hurdles to clear first—the biggest “involve abortion and immigration.” But trading away her “more liberal vision” for the bill, especially a robust public option, should help ensure House passage and ease differences with the Senate version.
“Nancy Pelosi starts clock on House health care bill”

Both bills are the same—bad: Pelosi’s bill is “more of the same,” say the editors of National Review, the same being a big pile of “liberal hubris.” Even if you took out the public option, both Democratic bills raise taxes and premiums, coerce people into buying insurance, and disrupt our medical system. Sure, House and Senate Democrats disagree on how to fund this unpopular mess, but “what seems most inevitable is that sooner or later they will pay for it.”
“The inevitable debacle”

The big question is the public option: Both chambers are ignoring the “growing public groundswell” for a stronger public option, says the Houston Chronicle in an editorial, but the House version “comes closest” to providing this “urgently needed” alternative to “unresponsive corporate” insurance monoliths. “We can do better,” though—and better means including a “thoughtfully constructed public option” in the final bill.
“Preferred option”

It’s now in the hands of the 'centrists': Even with a watered-down public option, says Paul Krugman in The New York Times, the “broadly similar” House and Senate bills are better than I’d expected. Now a handful of “self-proclaimed centrists” will decide if this “seemingly impossible dream of fundamental health-care reform” is killed or finally realized. For health care, “this is the moment of truth”—which side are you on, centrists?
“The defining moment”

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