The NYT is reporting that Dem leadership is leaning toward producing a much scaled-down version of reform.
The consensus measure would be less ambitious than the bills approved last year. It would extend insurance coverage to perhaps 12 million to 15 million people — and provide political cover to Democrats, who said they could not simply drop the issue after spending so much time and effort on it.
The pared-back approach would cover fewer than half of those who, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would gain coverage under the House and Senate bills. But it would not put the government on the hook for what critics say is a new entitlement, a change that would appeal to some Republicans.
While no decisions have been made and the White House was reluctant to concede it would not get a bigger bill, Congressional aides were working to identify common ground.
Those elements include denials on the basis of pre-existing conditions for children under 19; allowing policyholders to continue coverage for children through age 25 or 26; federal financial incentives to states to expand Medicaid and grant to establish exchanges; tax credits to small businesses to encourage them to provide coverage for workers; reform on out of network payments for emergency care.
Well, the CBO score would be good, at least. They should at least have the spine to try to get real Medicaid expansion and Medicare buy-in into the mix. This is a pretty damned pathetic retreat. And you know what's worse? This:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell "will have his whole caucus vote for it and make it a political win for the Republicans," one well-connected Democratic health care strategist said. "They'll say, 'This was the Republican plan from the beginning. We're glad the Democrats joined us.' And take all the credit for passing reform."
Lo and behold, on Thursday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested that the Republican Party do just that, arguing that it would be "clever" for the GOP to pass non-controversial reform measures with "huge bipartisan majorities."
Alternately, some Democrats might welcome such a move. "Hell yeah," a Democratic congressional aide said. "We would have created a bi-partisan bill. We would have shown leadership. And we'd get credit for that."
Right, because every time the Dems completely fold their "bipartisanship" is applauded. That's what passes for leadership among Dem congressional aides? We don't just need better Dems in Congress, we need better staff in Congress.
A reminder to this aide and to all the Dem "leaders" who might be misguided enough to agree: voters don't care about your precious bipartisanship, they want you to do the right thing and get them affordable health insurance. You can see that right here, in black and white.
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