Friday, December 11, 2009

The Medicare Buy-In Is Dead--The Liberals Are Now the Swing Votes in Health Care

The Medicare buy-in idea is dead. After Democratic Congressman Weiner's candid comment, “Never mind the camel’s nose, we’ve got his head and neck in the tent," no senator from the likes of Arkansas or Indiana is going to vote for this.

Add to that yesterday's critical Washington Post editorial and the sharp response from the various doc and hospital lobbies and this was dead before Reid's request even got to the CBO.

Face it, there will be no public option--and I don't consider the OPM idea even the ghost of a public option. Heck that thing is so weak you might think someone from the health insurance industry designed it (health insurer stock prices hit 52-week highs this week).

So it is no longer the moderate Dems who are the swing votes.

It is all of those liberals in the Senate and House who said they would not vote for a health bill that did not have a public option. True, the latest version in the Reid and Pelosi bill was nothing more than the neutered variety but at least the liberals had some political cover. Now they will have none.

Reid has about a week before the CBO report--which no longer matters--comes back and the Medicare buy-in is officially dead. The word is he is trying to rejigger the Medicare buy-in idea to placate the providers. But now it will forever be the "camel's head and neck" for already nervous moderate Democrats.

Democrats have kept rolling toward a health care bill even with poll approval rates in the high high 30s and low 40s because they know they cannot offend their base by failing to produce a health care bill. They know they have already lost lots of swing voters but it would be worse for them next November if they also lost that critical base.

The base wanted a public option and is rabidly mad about what is going on.

So, your garden variety liberal now has a big decision to make.

Vote yes for a bill that just pumps $850 billion into pretty much the same system we already have--insurance companies and all--or do what they said they were going to do if they did not get a public option--ditch a health care bill.

It's not the moderates I will be watching the next few days--it will be all of those liberals who said they would never do what their President is about to call on them to do.
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