Blanche Lincoln now open to reconciliation on health reform

by: Chris Bowers

Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 11:17

Blanche Lincoln on January 26th:

"I am opposed to and will fight against any attempts to push through changes to the Senate health insurance reform legislation by using budget reconciliation tactics that would allow the Senate to pass a package of changes to our original bill with 51 votes," she said in a statement. "I will not accept any last-minute efforts to force changes to health insurance reform issues through budget reconciliation, and neither will Arkansans."

Blanche Lincoln yesterday, one week after getting a primary challenger:

A moderate Democrat who had vowed to oppose any effort by party leaders to push a health care bill through the Senate with a simple majority vote is rethinking her position.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln said Tuesday that she wants to see what is in the companion bill before deciding.

Steady as a rock, that Blanche Lincoln.  Talk about someone who is principled and immutable to political pressure.  Given how often she claims that she is speaking for Arkansas, does this mean the entire state is as flip-floppoity as she is?

Less snarkily, after a long stretch of flipping against progressive positions she had pledged to support, it is nice to see movement in the other direction.  Primaries work.

Chris Bowers :: Blanche Lincoln now open to reconciliation on health reform

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this is what Presidential pressure looks like (0.00 / 0)
Note that everyone has fallen in line as Obama decided to push ahead with approving the Senate bill and "fixing" it. In contrast, when the President is against something behind the scenes (public option), it gets dropped. This is just a little more remarkable that unusual since she was so explicit in her opposition.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

I'm sure being primaried by a progressive also was a contributor (4.00 / 3)
And this should be a learning moment for progressives who wonder how we can change things.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman

[ Parent ]
Chris, a serious question (0.00 / 0)
You, I, and some others have had some trouble seeing eye to eye on the future of the HCR bill and passage of said legislation, but I would like your candid opinion on a possible compromise.

I think that most folks on the left like me that want to see this bill dead think that way due to the mandate.  If there is no PO or cost controls, how the hell can we be expected to have to buy insurance or be criminals?  With some sort of PO or Medicare buy in, this concern would be offset.

So if we can't get a PO in the bill and pass it, can we get the mandate removed and pass what is left?  If this was possible at this stage in the game, I think both of our divisions could unite behind the bill that is left and pass this thing.  After all, if Obama just wants any bill to claim victory, doesn't that fit his need?  You (and your camp) still get many of the points you outlined earlier, and we (the kill the bill camp) could definitely support the bill if no mandate is required.

Why don't we push on this?  Why would it not work?  I look forward to your answer, you have excellent insight into these machinations of congress.  

Your compromise won't work (0.00 / 0)
People really would not pay for insurance until they got sick.  That's one the insurance companies are not just making up.  There's no free insurance.  Even with single-payer systems there is a form of "mandate" - it's called "taxes" which is an alien concept in America.  Everybody has to be in for this to work.

So, removing the mandate is no small thing, it's not a compromise, it's a deal-breaker.  You can't design a health care system based on private insurance that covers everyone without regard to preexisting conditions without a mandate.  That may be a good argument for abolishing the for-profit private insurance system, but it would drive the private insurers out of business.  You or I may shed no tears over that but it's not a workable proposal.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Doesn't fit together (0.00 / 0)
The problem is that you're left with a two legged stool.  You have guaranteed issue and community rating, which ensure that everyone is allowed to purchase insurance, and that insurance companies can't select customers by jacking their rates for sick people.  The problem is that, at least on paper, this leads to people buying insurance only when they need it, which blows premiums sky high.

I'm not entirely sure that many people would actually act like this, but good luck telling that to an economist.  The budget score on a mandate-less bill would be ugly, so it just plain wouldn't go in congress.

Incidentally, I'd love to see more discussion here over what strikes me as the central issue of the bill-without-a-public-option debate, namely, whether regulations on the private insurers can work. It seems to me that the debate we've come down to is whether competition from a public option is the only way to reign in the insurers, or whether regulations on minimum actuarial value and minimum medical losses, combined with "prudent purchaser" functions in the exchange are enough to lead to a reliable insurance product. The reason I'm inclined supporting the bill is that I haven't seen a lot of compelling explanation from opponents of why the regulations won't work--but I haven't seen a whole lot on either side.

[ Parent ]
Does this matter? (0.00 / 0)
Aren't we already sure that the votes for reconciliation exist in the Senate?

Maybe not (0.00 / 0)
Some margin is always a good thing, but it does add fuel to the Halter fire.  Primaries can be a good thing.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

[ Parent ]
Now that it's too late, (0.00 / 0)
she wants to take the air out of a primary battle. It does leave us in a weaker position if she follows through on her promise, though I suspect she'll find "issues" that she thinks give her cover, maybe to just not vote at all.

It will be harder for Halter if she does vote yes in the end, even though her turncoat efforts had great influence in watering down the bill in the first place. Is this a signal that her insuranceco patrons find the bill now acceptable? Is she looking for leverage to kill any last-ditch attempts to strengthen it?

This dilemma is an early consequence of the Dem leadership's refusal to call a cloture vote early on so turncoats could be definitively identified and punished. Maybe that was the whole idea. Anyway, I think Lincoln's sleazy behavior just makes it all the more necessary to bring her down in the primary. She's a disgrace to the party and the country -- now more than ever.


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