Health Care Reform Fate Still Mystery
Scanning the stories on Memeorandum this morning, it appears that a radical reform of America’s health care system is either a fait accompli or deader than a doornail. Why, even Bob Dole is conflicted.
Karl Rove has a piece in WSJ titled “The GOP Is Winning the Health-Care Debate.” He cites polling data:
According to Fox News surveys, the number of independents who oppose health-care reform hit 57% at the end of September, up from 33% in July. Independents are generally a quarter of the vote in off-year congressional elections.
Among college graduates, opposition to health-care reform is now 50%, while only 33% support it, according to Gallup’s Sept. 24 poll. College graduates are slightly more than a quarter of the off-year electorate.
Among seniors, opposition to ObamaCare hit 63% in last month’s Economist/YouGov Poll. But the number from that poll that should spook Democrats is this: 47% of seniors said they “strongly” oppose health-care reform, just 27% “strongly” support it. Seniors are the biggest consumers of health care, and their family members will probably take their concerns seriously. Seniors will likely cast about 20% of the votes next year.
These are indeed interesting data points and would seem more evidence that the GOP should pick up a sizable number of seats in next year’s elections. But it doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the context of the current legislative debate, aside from strengthening the resolve of current Members who oppose the reforms on the table and perhaps striking fear into the hearts of those on the fence.
Erick Erickson had a piece at Red State yesterday afternoon titled “Senate GOP Folding Over Health Care Reform” which reports, “I am told quite reliably that in a meeting today on Capitol Hill, Republican Senators began to rapidly move toward concessions on health care because they are afraid they cannot hold their members. Some Republicans are now thinking of supporting a government program.” An update, however, informs us these reports were “overblown.”
A report in The Hill has the bill preferred by House Democrats gaining steam.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told a closed-door caucus meeting that the group’s “whip count” showed it had 208 of the 218 votes needed to pass what liberals call a “robust” public option. That version would link rates to Medicare plus 5 percent.
“I said we have the votes to pass a robust plan,” Woolsey said. “This is without leadership stepping up and saying, ‘We’re for this.’ “
This is interesting but academic; there’s nothing like 50, let alone 60, votes in the Senate for anything like this.
Meanwhile, depending on which report you read, former Senate Majority Leader and Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole supports some kind of comprehensive reform, thinks it’s a shame that partisan politics gets in the way, and either thinks it inevitable that a bill will get passed soon or that we’ll have to wait a long time if it fails this year.
In the midst of all this, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report finding, as NYT puts it, “The Senate Finance Committee legislation to revamp the health care system would provide coverage to 29 million uninsured Americans but would still pare future federal deficits by slowing the growth of spending on medical care.” Presumably, this means that Democrats who normally poo-poo CBO and Republicans who usually laud it will simultaneously have a change of heart.
Regardless, Ezra Klein finds that there’s not all that much difference between the system that CBO is scoring and the status quo.
Unless you’re uninsured, or on the individual market, this bill is not expected to affect you. CBO estimates that 29 million Americans who would’ve otherwise been uninsured will be covered. That’s a very big deal. Five million Americans who would otherwise have been left to the individual market will find a better option. And 3 million Americans who would’ve otherwise been in employer-based health insurance will be on the exchanges or, in some cases, on Medicaid. The insurance exchanges are projected to serve 23 million people come 2019, and 18 million of the members will be low-income and on subsidies.
That leaves 245 million non-elderly Americans who will pretty much be in the exact place they would’ve been otherwise. As for the elderly, the CBO doesn’t include them because they’re on Medicare. They, too, will be where they otherwise would’ve been.
This, presumably, is why the polls are showing a decline in support for reform. The people who will be paying for it, after all, will mostly be in the same boat they’re in now.