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How health care reform got its groove back

February 23, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Wondering how we got from Sen. Scott Brown [R, MA] being elected in Massachusetts to kill health care reform to the health care bill, and maybe even the public option, being back on the table with a strong feeling of momentum behind it? Christina Bellantoni at Talking Points Memo tells the tale:

Among the factors at work helping revive momentum were the president’s performance at the GOP retreat last month, Republican shenanigans around the invitations to the summit and the massive rate hikes proposed by the nation’s largest insurer. What’s more, Democrats cited polls showing the American people want Congress to press on.

These disparate events came together after a month of legislative limbo, giving the White House the political cover to move forward.

Congressional Democrats have been breathing a sigh of relief because they say finishing health care is the only way to stave off massive losses this fall.

“Not passing a bill means that all the lies the Republicans told about the bills would end up being true in people’s minds,” a House Democratic aide said.

Read the full piece. It’s good.

Not mentioned in the TPM piece is the fact that the election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, which gave the Republicans enough votes to sustain a filibuster indefintely, basically forced the Democrats to either let the bill die, or use the budget reconciliation process to finish it. That makes it okay that some conservative Senate Democrats who voted for the health care bill when it passed the first time might balk this time around as the bill moves slightly to the left to meet the more progressive House bill half way. Budget reconciliation only requires a bare majority to pass, meaning that with VP Biden providing a tie-breaking vote, up to nine conservative Senate Dems can vote “no” on the final bill and it will still pass. Most moderate Democrats are already lining up to vote “yes” on the final bill anyways, so it will probably pass relatively easily through the reconciliation process without Joe Biden even having to vote.

The White House is holding its big bipartisan health care summit on Thursday, which Democrats seem to believe will be the final step before a final bill is passed by both chambers of Congress and signed into law. The final bill will likely look a lot like the proposal that the White House released this week, which we have converted to HTMl and posted online for your convenience.

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