Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Major movement on healthcare

Healthcare reform in the Senate is proceeding pretty much as I had expected.., er, hoped. The Office of Personel Management plan, combined with lowering the age for Medicare enrollment, has turned out to be a winner. It looks like both Republican senators from Maine -- Snowe and Collins -- like the idea, as do Democratic waverers Lincoln and Landrieu; even Lieberman seems at least lukewarm.

The next issue is abortion. It is unclear exactly how adament Ben Nelson is about not voting for the bill unless it contains a Stupak-like amendment (the one passed by the House). Nelson's attempt at including such a measure failed, but he hasn't definitively ruled out voting for the bill anyway. Getting Snowe and Collins on board may make the issue moot, however.

Assuming the Dems get 60 votes, the bill still has to be reconciled with the House version, which contains a "public option." I don't think that this will be a problem: the House will go along with the Senate version on this issue. What may be trickier is the Stupak anti-abortion amendment supporters. However, it will be much more difficult for Democrats in the House (who have a commanding majority) to scuttle the bill over abortion once it has already passed the Senate; also, supporters need only a simple majority in the House. I'm sure Obama and the party leaders will put the screws to them.

I make a hopeful guess that the current Senate bill will, in fact, pass narrowly in the Senate -- assuming it gets a reasonable expense report card from the Congressional Budget Office -- and that the House will go along with the Senate version.

Let's keep our fingers crossed.

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