To resolve the Mexican Standoff in which the Democrats find themselves over the health care restructuring bill, Harry Reid apparently has come up with the idea of splitting the bill. The popular insurance reform provisions would go to a full Senate vote subject to a filibuster, while the unpopular public option, mandates[*], and tax and spending provisions would be put through under a reconciliation procedure which requires only a simple majority.
This “solution” proves our point. There are aspects of health care reform which have popular and bipartisan support, some of which are included in the current draft bills and some of which are not. Some additional ideas would be to create a national market for private health insurance, to make it easier to purchase less expensive catastrophic insurance, and to simplify the rules on health savings accounts.
Passing these provisions will solve many if not most of the public’s complaints about health care, without busting the federal and state budgets, destroying the private health sector, getting the IRS involved in enforcing health care mandates, imposing higher taxes, and getting the government further involved in our lives.
Splitting the bill may seem like the way forward for the Democrats to get nationalized health care, but in fact it will focus the public on the fact that we don’t need to go there. Without popular health insurance reforms tied to the unpopular mandate, tax and spending provisions, the latter have little chance of success.
That’s not to say Harry Reid can’t push through the unpopular provisions, but he will not have the cover of the popular insurance reforms to justify the unpopular provisions. The wrath of the public in 2010 will be even greater once people realize they could have received most of what they wanted in health care reform without health care mandates, higher taxes, enormous budget deficits, rationing, and all the bureaucratic bungling which accompanies government-run anything.
Sounds like a plan.
[*The WSJ article lists mandates as being part of the insurance reforms which would be subject to a filibuster, but I can’t see that provision actually getting 60 votes, so I doubt it would be included in a break out of the bill. Republicans would have plenty of political cover standing against mandates as would more moderate Democrats.]