Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Olympia Snowe to Save the Day on Health Care Reform?

This morning's Post reports (here) that the six-person bipartisan team of Senate Finance Committee negotiators is close to reaching a deal on health care legislation that may be palatable to certain Republicans -- but that also omits many of Obama's preferred approaches.

The Republican negotiators are Olympia Snowe (Maine), Charles Grassley (Iowa), and Mike Enzi (Wyoming). Enzi is a former CPA and it sounds like he may be something of a wild-card -- reflecting the more skeptical view of the Republican Party at-large.

The article says that the aspects of the compromise package being worked out include:
  • Health care cooperatives (rather than a public option) (Christopher Beam has a good piece in Slate this week (here) about cooperatives and why, in order to be successful, they'd have to be regional (at the least) in scope)
  • Incentives (rather than a mandate) for employers to offer coverage to their workers
  • Narrow tax increases (rather than a surcharge on the rich)
265. Which tax increases will be included in this plan? I have a hard time believing the mass of Republicans will get on board with any plan with significant tax hikes, yet without them I don't understand how a reform package gets financed.
This story provides evidence for my theory that all major changes in American law, at this point in time, go through three people: Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Anthony Kennedy. I think it's very promising for Obama that Snowe is heavily invested in working something out, and I wonder whether this proposal will help Obama regain momentum in favor of getting something passed sooner rather than later.

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