The Senate Finance Committee finally completed its marathon markup of the health overhaul bill late last night and will reconvene next week to vote on the measure. This backdrop has dominated health policy commentary for almost a month, and the reaction from liberals and conseratives has been less than positive (for different reasons, as we’ve documented all week.)
MSNBC’s First Read hypothesizes about the delay until next week’s vote: ”And so the lobbying for Senator Olympia Snowe begins again. With the Finance Committee done considering amendments, Chairman Max Baucus decided to wait until next week to hold the final vote. Part of the delay is to get the Congressional Budget Office to re-score this final bill with the marked-up amendments.”
Yesterday the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics, two orgs dedicated to exposing conficts of interest in politics, released a new study that identifies “contribution clusters” — money flowing from health care lobbyists and industry groups to lawmakers in Congress. The study examined contributions to all members of the House and Senate.
According to the analysis, Baucus was “one of the biggest beneficiaries of this one-two punch from lobbyists and the interests they represent.” Researchers then compiled the info graphically — see the “wheel of health care contributions” for Baucus, below. The study rated Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. first in contributions, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., second and Baucus third. (H/t, Washington Post’s Capitol Briefing.)
Zachary Cooper, on the Altarum Institute’s blog, wants the Finance Committee example to be instructive: “My hope is that as a result of seeing precisely what conciliation and trepidation look like in print, his proposal will inspire Democrats and willing Republicans alike to become more bold.”
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein discusses an amendment from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that would give states major flexibility with reform. Klein says it appears the amendment may allow states to enact a single-payer system, should they chose, and continues, “It’s not impossible to imagine a liberal state using the waiver to introduce some mega-public plan that’s a lot stronger than what’s currently on the table and can be used as a demonstration project for other states.”
The American Spectator’s Doug Bandlow is looking beyond the Finance Committee and offers a counter-intuitive take on the aftermath should a health overhaul bill pass: “The common assumption is that it would be devastating for President Barack Obama and the Democrats if they don’t pass something on health care. But what if they win and pass something that is deeply unpopular?”