At the rate this crazy health care reform debate is going it could well come full circle and back to twelve Senators who still think they have a good idea--if everyone else would stop digging in on what they can't agree on.
This from a Washington Post op-ed they co-authored this week:
As 12 U.S. senators from both sides of the aisle who have widely varying philosophies, we offer a concrete demonstration that it is possible to find common ground and pass real health reform this year. The process has been rocky, and slower than many had hoped. But the reports of the death of bipartisan health reform have been greatly exaggerated. Now is the time to resuscitate it, before the best opportunity in years is wasted.
The Democrats among us accepted an end to the tax-free treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance; instead, everyone -- not just those who currently get insurance through their employer -- would get a generous standard deduction that they would use to buy insurance -- and keep the excess if they buy a less expensive policy.
The Republicans agreed to require all individuals to have coverage and to provide subsidies where necessary to ensure that everyone can afford it. Most have agreed to require employers to contribute to the system and to pay workers wages equal to the amount the employer now contributes for health care. The Congressional Budget Office has reported that this framework is the only one thus far that bends the health-care cost curve down and makes it possible for the new system to pay for itself. It does this by creating a competitive market for health insurance in which individuals are empowered to choose the best values for their money and by cutting administrative costs and spreading risk across large groups of Americans.
Ron Wyden is a Democratic senator from Oregon. Robert F. Bennett is a Republican senator from Utah. The other authors of this op-ed, and co-sponsors of the Healthy Americans Act, are Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Michael D. Crapo (R-Idaho), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
Are these twelve "tilting at windmills?"
My observation is that we are nowhere close to achieving any kind of health care bill in 2009. This thing is deadlocked. When I drill down past all of the optimistic spin I find Senators and Representatives that can't agree on any one of dozens of key issues. Those House bills that are out of committee? Wait til you see the floor debate on those. After this recess, it won't be pretty and I'm talking about moderate and conservative Democrats here.
The Senate Finance bipartisan "gang of six" are attracting loads of attention as the Senate heads home for the recess. But take a look at what they're coming up with and I doubt you could find another six Senators that would sign on to it.
But the twelve who have signed on to the Wyden-Bennett Healthy Americans Act aren't giving up.
Don't count them out--they just might outlast every other idea put on the table. Goodness knows they've outlasted dozens that have come and gone already!