The Road to Healthcare Reform

Healthcare reform continues to slowly move through Congress.  One of the main sticking points in both the House and Senate is over the issue of a national public health insurance option — or ‘public option.’  In the Senate, one possible solution to the controversy would be to provide a national public option with a state opt-out clause.  Today’s National Journal provided the following summary of the proposed solution:

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad and Sens. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Thomas Carper, D-Del., said leaders were interested in getting support for a national option with a state opt-out clause. The idea is a twist by Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer of New York on a Carper plan.

Schumer said reaction has been good. “Liberals live with it. Moderates live with it. It’s in the middle.”

Carper said he is working on further modifying it to include a trigger clause and a nonprofit, provisions aimed at Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Conrad.

Snowe said Thursday it would be difficult for her to imagine voting for a motion to proceed to the bill unless the public option includes a trigger that determines when it would kick in. Conrad, who authored the co-op system in the Finance Committee bill as an alternative to a public option, said Thursday states should have the choice to participate in a nonprofit.

In the House, Politico is reporting that Speaker Pelosi lacks the votes to pass a “robust public option”— the most aggressive of the three forms of a public option House Democrats have been considering as part of a national overhaul of health care.  The complete story can be found here.

The Washington Post has been closely tracking reform in their Healthcare Reform 2009 section of the website. On October 9, they published a simple flow-chart to help explain the complicated process for bills to move through Congress. It’s available online here.

–Jon Terry, President, Capitol Youth Strategies LLC

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