Ezra Klein, one of the most vocal bill-backers, has a really good plan – scrap the bill. But that doesn’t mean healthcare reform is dead. Instead he offers up items that could easily go through reconciliation:
Democrats could scrap the legislation and start over in the reconciliation process. But not to re-create the whole bill. If you go that route, you admit the whole thing seemed too opaque and complex and compromised. You also admit the limitations of the reconciliation process. So you make it real simple: Medicare buy-in between 50 and 65. Medicaid expands up to 200 percent of poverty with the federal government funding the whole of the expansion. Revenue comes from a surtax on the wealthy.
And that’s it. No cost controls. No delivery-system reforms. Nothing that makes the bill long or complex or unfamiliar. Medicare buy-in had more than 51 votes as recently as a month ago. The Medicaid change is simply a larger version of what’s already passed both chambers. This bill would be shorter than a Danielle Steel novel. It could take effect before the 2012 election.
Now that is a good starting point and something every American should be able to comprehend.
But reform shouldn’t stop there and now is the time for Democrats to appear bipartisan. Once they push this through reconciliation then it’s time to offer up even more legislation. Put in a new bill that would do the following:
- Address denials for pre-existing conditions.
- Open up competition nationally.
- Allow drug reimportation.
- Tackle tort reform.
Take opening up competition and capping lawsuits. Those two items have been Republican talking points for years. That would make this bill split about 50/50 between Democratic idea and Republican ideas. Now that is bipartisan. Will the Republicans vote against such a compromise? If they do try to filibuster it then Harry Reid needs to force them to filibuster. We need all the press we can get on it and that will become a gift to Democrats in November.
Put all this together and we got something America will understand. Let’s face it – people don’t understand things like “health exchanges” or “public options” like they do “death panels”. This gives a very controllable message for Democrats to use and it keeps a majority of the system the same, while fixing some of the larger pitfalls.
Now’s your chance to shine in the atmosphere of doom Democrats. Let’s do this thing.