Politico reports that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee is set to release a draft health care bill later today. But there's something missing:
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee will release a much anticipated draft of health care reform this afternoon, but the most contentious issues, like the public insurance option and employer mandate, will be left out of the bill for now, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said this morning.
"There are some gaps. But there are no gaps in our determination, my determination and that of my colleagues to have a public option, pay-or-play, or biologics," Dodd said.
This isn't definitive, but in general I think you want to see the things you want in a bill included in the chairman's mark, not left out for later.
If you recall the way the FISA bill went down, you'll see the importance. Yes, you'll have a vote later on including the language you want, but shoehorning a major shift in policy into an existing draft is always a lot harder, both politically and procedurally, than helping it survive a markup if it's in the original draft. With FISA, the dynamics were slightly different, to be sure. There you had two competing versions of a bill from two different committees vying for the right to become the base bill for purposes of floor consideration. But the similarity is that once it was decided the base bill would be the one with retroactive immunity in it, the fight to replace it with the version that dropped immunity was uphill all the way. And although including the public option won't face anything analogous to the 60-vote threshold in the HELP committee, the dynamics of inserting major changes versus preserving the status quo still has some application.
This bill is slated for a markup next Tuesday. That gives proponents all of a week to design the public option from the ground up, get their ducks in a row, and take on the inertia of the status quo head on. How do you make the odds?