Lots of movement in the last few days on health care reform, in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. There’s been a clear back-and-forth in both houses, focused on the public health insurance option, and on the savings it generates that allows for better affordability subsidies for low- and moderate-income families.
The general gist is that Speaker Pelosi, representing California well, is working to see if she has the votes to have a health reform that includes a strong public health insurance option (which would start off-the-bat paying providers at 5% higher than Medicare rates)–which in turns allow the reform to provide more financial assistance to low- and moderate-income families. It’s important that our Congressmembers hear from constituents that that’s the option they want to vote on in the next week or so.
In the Senate, Senate Pro Tem Harry Reid is seeing if he can pass health reform (which means not have a Democratic-caucusing Senator vote to filibuster the bill) include a version of the public health insurance option at all, as he seeks to merge the Senate HELP bill, which has one, with the Senate Finance version, which doesn’t. The kind of compromise that has been talked about is an “opt-out” version where a national plan starts on day one, but states can opt-out of it.
Of course, anything in these bills will eventually need to be negotiated between the House and the Senate, so what we are really arguing about is the contours of the final discussion, rather than the final product.