Monday, July 27, 2009

CBO Has Spoken - What's Next in Health Care?

Just heard an NBC news report this morning that there will be no vote in either the House or Senate before the August recess. Nancy Pelosi is reportedly going to resume negotiations in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This leaves HR 3200 hanging out there in the month of August like a pinata. The bill, written in haste, leaves plenty for special interest groups to whack away at over the summer recess. House representatives are likely to get an earful from their constituents over some of the more controversial aspects of the legislation.

Whether this criticism will result in legislation that actually does bend the costs downward while attempting to cover a greater number of people with quality health insurance, seems not very likely. Take for example the recent CBO report declaring the IMAC an ineffective means of bending back costs which was the President's stated goal. Jonathan Cohn writes in "The Treatment" blog at "The New Republic," there are three options open in light of the CBO reports available to Democratic leadership. The first is to actually revise IMAC according to the CBO points, which Cohn suggests is the position the Obama Administration seems to prefer. The second which Cohn advocates is to proceed despite CBO's reports as the legislation pays for itself over the next decade and may result in savings. Cohn notes that it wouldn't be the first time CBO gets the analysis wrong. The third option is to kill reform altogether.

It seems the Democratic leadership have opted to go with option number two. Hot Air cites a report in The Hill:
Democrats are going to seek to convince skeptics that the healthcare overhaul has other provisions, such as prevention and wellness measures, that will provide benefits and save money, a House leadership aide told The Hill on Sunday.
In his analysis of the repercussions of the latest CBO report, Keith Hennessey quotes a friend, “At some point the advocates of this reform package need to realize that the only way to cut spending is to cut spending.” Unfortunately, it looks like the reform advocates are not likely to come to that realization any time soon, if ever. Perhaps if the President's poll numbers continue to drop as the Administration and Democratic Congress focus on health care legislation while the public struggles with the reality of massive unemployment and a brutal economy, Congress will get the message to stop playing around with smoke and mirror reform and either created meaningful reform or devote their attention to the economy. Judging from the reaction to the CBO reports, however,, it seems more likely Congress and the Administration consider all criticism to be coming from the man behind the curtain rather than the Great and Powerful Oz, which doesn't bode well for meaningful reform or the American people.

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