Monday, February 22, 2010

The President’s Health Care Plan—Not a Game Changer

It is hard to see how the health care plan the President released this morning changes anything.

There is nothing new in it save a health insurance rate regulatory board that is an awkward political proposal at best. What powers would it really have and how would it operate in conjunction with the states already charged with insurance company oversight are just two of the first questions it does not answer.

Fundamentally, what good would insurance rate regulation do if the President’s plan has only tepid cost containment built into it in the first place?

There are not the votes in the House right now to pass this new proposal—or the Senate bill. There are not likely even the votes in the Senate under a 51-vote rule for the President's new plan.

That could change if the President scores a game changer on Thursday at Blair House that finally moves the polls from the 40% approval rating Democrats have had on health care to something over 50%.

But there is nothing in the White House health care proposal that was released this morning that will do that.

If the President thinks he can do it alone on the back of his “communication skills” then all the adulation on the part of his supporters, like his Nobel Peace Prize, has gone to his head.

If Obama wants to score a real game changer on Thursday, when the Republicans call for starting over on health care, I will suggest, the President ought to say, “Deal.” Then call on the Republicans to join he and the Democratic leadership in 60 days of intensive negotiations to get a bipartisan deal. That would really put the Republicans on the spot—and Democrats as well.

If what both sides want is bipartisan health care reform then what they should be agreeing to do is achieve that in a time certain with no preconditions on the table.

Then let’s see who comes to the table in good faith.

The outcome of that exercise, successful or not, would give us a real health care issue to take to the polls in November.
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