Diary

Confused about Health Care Reform, so are the People working on It

There are very good reasons to be confused about what kind of health care reform Congress is debating right now. The health reform plans keep changing. Even in the Committees of jurisdiction, only part of each bill is being considered because the rest of the bill has not been drafted.

And when it gets drafted, it has to be scored (its cost to the taxpayer determined) by the Congressional Budget Office, and the scores have been so high, ranging from $1.6 Trillion to $2.4 trillion in the U.S. Senate to in the range of $3 trillion in the U.S. House, that the crippling price tags are causing further changes.

And until the Democrats decide whether to have a government health plan option or not, the delays and confusion will continue. On one hand, three of the most influential U.S. House Democratic caucuses have demanded a public/government plan option: the Black caucus, the Progressive caucus and the Asian-Pacific caucus.

Second, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Medical Association and the Association of Health Insurance Plans have all come out four-square against a government plan. When the leaders of the employer, doctor and insurance communities are unified in opposition to a specific legislative health care agenda item, it becomes very difficult to pass. It remains to be seen if that is true in a Congress dominated so heavily by the Democratic Party, but my guess it that it is still true.

Third, President Obama said at his media conference that there is “no line in the sand” on a government plan, but House Speaker Pelosi says she cannot pass health reform in the U.S. House without a government plan. When the Chief of Staff of the White House was asked about what President Obama meant when he said what he did about the public plan, the Chief of Staff said that it was unclear what the President said.

If you are confused about what is happening on health care reform, don’t worry, until a political decision is made and enforced by either the White House or the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House or U.S. Senate, about whether there will be a government plan option or not, the delays, confusion and stop and go will continue.