Posted by: Jeff | February 16, 2010

Tuesday Health Care Update

The New York Times‘ health care blog reports that negotiations between the House and Senate over health care reform remain stalled, and hints that the Obama Administration may put forward their own package if movement doesn’t pick up.

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein blogs that almost the complete opposite is the case.

“Ironing out the policy particulars [of the health-care bill] is not a real obstacle,” sighs one tired Senate aide. “We were pretty much there before Massachusetts. We pretty much had an agreement. We know where we’ll end up. The issue is the process.”

This is what pretty much every Hill office tells me: The health-care holdup is not policy. It’s process.

So what can the summit do? Well, somehow or other, it’s got to leave Democrats confident enough to push this into the end zone. The Hill feels it’s doing its part. Democrats expect to have a compromise proposal ready in time for the summit. “I have a quiet confidence we’ll be able to bridge our differences,” says Jim Manley, spokesman for Harry Reid. “There’s been a lot more talk behind the scenes than people realize. It’s an awful lot of work for a bill that’s supposedly not going anywhere.”

And as discussed earlier, the realistic chances of a bipartisan agreement being reached during the summit are basically nil. Which leaves it to Obama to win the hearts and minds of the American public over to whatever bill he and the Democrats put forward, and to convince them that the reconciliation process will be a necessary move in the face of obstructionism, rather than a power grab.

“I don’t think the Democrats need to be convinced that the Republicans aren’t interested in cooperating,” the aide told me. “They need to be convinced that the public is convinced of that.”

And so it goes. Nine days to the summit and counting.


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