Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Health Care Update, Health Care Goals

Good updates on health care reform in the House and in the Senate today from Steve Benen.

Unfortunately, the liberal public option fetish is driving almost all of the publicity right now, and so there's very little about the other contents of the bill. Here's Jonathan Cohn's list of the ten most important things that he thinks liberals should be concerned with. Virtually all of the chatter has been about #4, public option, with a little bit of reporting about #10, open the exchanges, mainly because Ron Wyden has decided to make noise about it. Hey, reporters: it's reasonable for you to follow the battle waged by liberal activists over public option, but don't forget that subsidy levels, funding mechanism, and individual and employer mandate details are probably a lot more important. Let's hear more about what's happening with those!

On public option: it's been clear for a while that the most likely outcome would be some sort of weak, compromised, public option. That's what the votes in Senate Finance pointed to, properly interpreted. I suppose it's not entirely unreasonable for liberals to care about just where the compromise will be struck, but I remain baffled by their obsession with it at the expense of the rest of the bill.

My advice to liberals remains that there are two critical tests for the final bill: are the short-run effects relatively positive for most voters; and, is the structure erected in this major overhaul amenable to relatively easy positive change in the future. I think those tests mean that setting up a public option is far more important than worrying about its strength right now, but it also means that how individual and employer mandates and subsidy levels are handled are very important.

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