Health Care Returns

If you thought health care reform was dead in the Congress, think again, as Democrats are going to try to rustle up some momentum on the issue this week, in hopes of getting something to the President's desk. The White House is ready to roll out a new plan (at 10am EST) in advance of this week's health care reform summit with Congressional Republicans.  Whether it changes the dynamic - we'll see.

One story line is clear about this new bill, as the White House put out the word that it will give the feds the power to limit rate increases by health insurance companies.

That type of insurance regulation has been left to the states.

This follows on last week's public rebuke by the White House of an insurance company that was raising its rates significantly - obviously, Obama Administration officials sense some advantage on that angle.

As for Democrats in the House and Senate, they started making all kinds of noise last week and then over the weekend about a new push on health reform, with talk of including a public insurance option and using special budget reconciliation rules that don't allow a Senate filibuster.

Can they do that?  Sure they can.

The better question is, will it work?  A lot of people might argue that answer is 'no'.

It's a simple calculus right now for Democrats.  The easiest way to get a health care bill into law is for the House to pass the bill that made it through the Senate on Christmas Eve.

But the votes aren't there in the House to do that.  And this week, Democrats will lose another vote when Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) resigns his seat to go back to run for Governor in the Aloha State.

The Democrats alrady lost one vote this month with the death of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).  His seat won't be filled until a special election in May, and there is no guarantee that Democrats will keep that seat.

A vacant seat in Florida is likely to go to the Democrats, but that won't happen until mid April.

In the Senate, there certainly aren't 60 votes for health reform at this point.  Now maybe this week's health summit will produce legislative Nirvana, but not many people would probably put some serious money on it.

As for the new plan coming out today, the details - not the press release bullet points - will be interesting to sift through.

Don't expect it to be something that Republicans will accept, which means that Democrats will have to muster the votes in the House and Senate for health care on their own, with budget reconciliation.

It will not be an easy fight, but it looks like Democrats want to give it one more shot.

We will see if it works.

If you thought health care reform was dead in the Congress, think again, as Democrats are going to try to rustle up some momentum on the issue this week, in hopes of getting something to the President's desk. The White House is ready to roll out a new plan (at ...