Reid caves on Medicare expansion

Since they’ve given up on the public option, and since they’ve given up on Medicare expansion as a substitute for the public option, does that mean, as the New York Post says it means, “that there will be no government-run program to insure the uninsured”? Then what’s the point? The very purpose of the bill was to cover all Americans. If they can’t do that, why do any bill at all?

The New York Times’ article today on the same development reports: “Mr. Lieberman says he favors the essential elements of the health care legislation but fears that expanding government programs would compound the federal debt.” But universal or near-universal coverage is the essential element of the legislation. And he has shot that down. So what essential elements are left for him to favor?

Here is the Post article (the Times article is even less informative, as it’s mainly a personality piece on LIeberman).

Health Dems drop Medicare option
Reid bows to Joe and KOs Medicare option
December 15, 2009

WASHINGTON—Senate Democrats last night dropped a key Medicare expansion plan from the proposed health-care bill in a major last-minute concession to save the legislation from going under.

The plan would have allowed people as young as 55 to enroll in Medicare.

The decision to scrap the idea—which would have considerably expanded health-care coverage, a key promise made by Democrats in last year’s elections—came as President Obama put heavy pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats to reach a compromise that they could still call “health-care reform.”

The move came after Reid, of Nevada, held an hours-long closed-door meeting with all 60 members of the Democratic caucus and after Obama had called a White House meeting where he could personally lobby the caucus today.

Sen. Max Baucus, (D-Mont.), a key negotiator, and other Democrats told reporters upon leaving last night’s meeting that Reid had bailed on the Medicare expansion option.

Asked if Reid explicitly dropped the Medicare plan from the larger health reform bill, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) responded, “That’s what it sounded like to me.”

The about-face leaves liberals steaming that there will be no government-run program to insure the uninsured, as was widely promised.

But it was a major victory for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who expressed his concern the plan could further jeopardize Medicare, a federal program which already faces staggering financial problems.

“Put me down tonight as encouraged about the direction these talks are going,” Lieberman said after Reid caved.

On Sunday, Lieberman said he planned to join Republicans in blocking the Democratic health-care plan if it included the Medicare option.

Reid did not explicitly acknowledge or deny that he had buckled to Lieberman in stripping the Medicare provisions.

“Democrats aren’t going to let the American people down,” he said. “I’m confident that by next week we will be on our way toward final passage.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 15, 2009 10:42 AM | Send

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