The end is in sight for Democrats pushing through health care reform. However, Olympia Snowe is opting out, Nelson's compromise is making pro-choicers and anti-choicers tear out their hair, and Politifact explains that "reducing costs" really depends on the metric.
Senator Ben Nelson's vote for health care reform was locked in Friday night, after what was described as "a 90-minute nail biter." What was he doing? Making a call to "a Nebraska based anti-abortion activist' about the proposed compromise around abortion restrictions in the final bill. However, the final results infuriated both sides.
The Washington Post has the details on the compromise:
Under the new abortion provisions, states can opt out of allowing plans to cover abortion in the insurance exchanges the bill would set up. The exchanges are designed to serve individuals who lack coverage through their jobs, with most receiving federal subsidies to buy insurance. Enrollees in plans that cover abortion procedures would pay with separate checks — one for abortion, one for any other health-care services.
[T]his compromise ensures there is a firewall between private and public funds, and does not prohibit women from using their own private funds for their legal reproductive health care."
Anti-choice groups are already mobilizing against Nelson. The Susan B. Anthony list, in particular, demonstrates its measured reasoning and understanding of the right to choose:
Americans – women included – reject the radical feminist vision of an abortion for every home, at government expense.
Still, Nelson cleaned up during the proceedings. In exchange for his vote, the state of Nebraska will have the federal government fund their Medicaid expansion (in perpetuity) and got Nebraska non-profit insurers an exemption from a proposed industry wide tax. No wonder the Republicans are blasting this as " a sweetheart deal."
The deals extended to Nelson, as well as other moderate Dems, paved the way for the magic number 60, which has effectively stopped a Republican filibuster, allowing the bill to move forward before Christmas. Sen. John McCain lamented on Fox News that there is probably nothing the GOP can do to stop the bill.
But despite this small concession, many on the left are left with a lingering bitter aftertaste from the whole health care debacle. Paul Krugman used his column today to point out how the United States Congress has become "ominously dysfunctional:"
Now consider what lies ahead. We need fundamental financial reform. We need to deal with climate change. We need to deal with our long-run budget deficit. What are the chances that we can do all that - or, I'm tempted to say, any of it - if doing anything requires 60 votes in a deeply polarized Senate? [...]
The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, "extended-debate-related problems" - threatened or actual filibusters - affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.
Outside of the nuts and bolts of productivity, other progressives are becoming increasingly concerned with what we are actually buying. The anxieties expressed last week over the ultimate costs and benefits of health care reform are still in full effect. Politifact recently waded into the health care debate while evaluating Obama's campaign promises. Using their popular "truth-o-meter," editors rank the claim "Obama said health care reform will reduce the cost of health care" as half true: