After literally thousands of pages of legislation, days of debate, and a seven hour healthcare summit, the House and the Senate are no closer to an overhaul of the healthcare system than they were a year ago. It is not only bipartisan support that continues to be an issue; the disagreement has progressed to a battle between House and Senate Democrats on who votes first and whose language remains in the final bill. President Obama has indicated he would like to impose a new holiday deadline to finish healthcare reform: Easter recess.
In an attempt to encourage bipartisanship, President Obama has offered to incorporate some small ideas suggested by Republicans at the health care summit. These include “random undercover investigations” to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid fraud, programs to reform medical malpractice, increased Medicaid reimbursement to physicians, and the expansion of health savings accounts that can be used with high deductible plans. Unfortunately, these are small concessions and will most likely not change the Republican vote in the House or the Senate. And now, some Democrats are opposed to certain aspects of the compromise!
Unfortunately, it has become apparent that the only means by which health care reform will pass is through the now famous reconciliation process. This little known procedure, has been used to pass Bush tax cuts and COBRA, the health care benefit act, among others. It would appear that reconciliation and its simple majority vote will be the only option available to pass a comprehensive health care bill, if the House and Senate can agree on who gets to vote first on the other’s bill. And then there’s the implementation of reform which will take months.
If Americans were confused about health care reform before, it has only gotten more complicated. There is so much politics involved and so much media coverage, it’s hard to follow what is happening when.
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