Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a cryptic compromise last night — providing just enough detail to send the blogosphere scrambling to eek out the rest.
Today they’ve unfolded this much — there will be some sort of option for those 55-65 to buy into Medicare, coupled with new national nonprofit plans and a “triggered” public option. The problem? No one seems very happy.
TPMDC’s Brian Beutler reports: “The picture, therefore, is decidedly mixed. Which means, after all this effort, 60 votes remains uncertain. That’s probably why Reid sent an array of options to CBO, and why nobody will know the nittiest, grittiest details of the compromise until it’s unveiled.” Beutler also rounds up Senators’ comments thus far.
There’s still a ton to figure out – The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn made a list of 10 wonky policy questions, including who exactly will be allowed into Medicare (all workers? only uninsurable?) and what kind of plan would appear, should it be triggered?
Bob Laszewski thinks Democrats have latched onto Republican ideas in terms of the national nonprofit plan — and he says it will fail: “an out-of-state health plan by definition isn’t going to have a local provider network and will have health care costs that are a lot more expensive than a local plan that does have discounts and managed care protocols negotiated with providers. Well, at least neither side–Democrats or Republicans–have the upper hand on this issue.”
And economist Austin Frakt sees flaws in the proposal to open Medicare to more people: “That is, Medicare for the 55-64 age range will probably only be available to those who meet certain tests of neediness, which is closer to the way it operates for disabled individuals than for the elderly. In effect, Medicare will likely be a dumping ground for bad risks, risks that the insurance industry is happy to transfer to the federal government. This version of Medicare for more will not lead to Medicare for all, it may only lead to Medicare for all bad risks. That’s also why it may pass.”
Heritage’s Conn Carroll thinks the deal “reveals how desperate Reid is” and thinks the process continues to violate Obama’s promises: “When President Barack Obama gave one of his first national health care addresses in June, he instructed Congress: ‘As we move forward on health care reform, it is not sufficient for us simply to add more people to Medicare or Medicaid.’ But after months of debate in Congress, that is all Obamacare has turned out to be.”
And Cato’s Michael Tanner says “No wonder Senator Reid wants to keep it a secret,” and gives “afew reasons to believe this is yet another truly bad idea.”