Obama health plan on the ropes?

It is perhaps too hopeful to believe that national health insurance is dead. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the dreaded "public option" which would create a government run health insurance system to compete with private insurers may be dying an ignoble death.

Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei of Politico report:

Top White House advisers, especially Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, are still privately predicting massive changes to the health care system in 2009. But for the first time, Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the administration are expressing frank worries about stronger-than-expected opposition from moderate Democrats and worse-than-expected estimates for how much the plan could cost.

Business groups, which had embraced the idea of reform and have been meeting quietly with Democrats for months in an effort to shape the legislation, now talk of spending millions of dollars to oppose the latest proposals out of Capitol Hill. And Democrats themselves are not united, with leading party figures making contradictory declarations about how far they should go to overhaul the system when deficits are soaring and prospects for an economic recovery remain cloudy.

And top Democratic officials tell POLITICO they are increasingly pessimistic about getting any more Republican votes than they did on the stimulus package, with some aides referring to the idea of a bipartisan bill as "fools' gold" - an unattainable waste of time.

"This was always going to be messy," said a senior administration strategist. "It got messy faster and earlier than people thought. But none of it is anything that's going to stop it."

Even Tom Daschle and a group of ex-HHS secretaries want the public option out of the bill. Initial estimates of a trillion dollars over 10 years have ballooned to at least $1.6 trillion over the decade. Even without the public option, we're looking at hundreds of billions of dollars to set up regional insurance pools and the like.

Blue Dog and centrist Democrats from the midwest and mountain west are listening to the voters and are balking at the price tag as well as government interference in the insurance industry. This could turn out to be the biggest debacle since, well, since Bill Clinton tried national health care 15 years ago.

What to expect at this point is unclear. There's going to be some kind of bill that will be passed that they will call "reform." Whether it means anything will be up to the personal persuasion skills of Obama. So far, he seems to like making threats rather than cajoling people. We'll see how that works on health insurance reform.




It is perhaps too hopeful to believe that national health insurance is dead. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the dreaded "public option" which would create a government run health insurance system to compete with private insurers may be dying an ignoble death.

Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei of Politico report:

Top White House advisers, especially Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, are still privately predicting massive changes to the health care system in 2009. But for the first time, Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the administration are expressing frank worries about stronger-than-expected opposition from moderate Democrats and worse-than-expected estimates for how much the plan could cost.

Business groups, which had embraced the idea of reform and have been meeting quietly with Democrats for months in an effort to shape the legislation, now talk of spending millions of dollars to oppose the latest proposals out of Capitol Hill. And Democrats themselves are not united, with leading party figures making contradictory declarations about how far they should go to overhaul the system when deficits are soaring and prospects for an economic recovery remain cloudy.

And top Democratic officials tell POLITICO they are increasingly pessimistic about getting any more Republican votes than they did on the stimulus package, with some aides referring to the idea of a bipartisan bill as "fools' gold" - an unattainable waste of time.

"This was always going to be messy," said a senior administration strategist. "It got messy faster and earlier than people thought. But none of it is anything that's going to stop it."

Even Tom Daschle and a group of ex-HHS secretaries want the public option out of the bill. Initial estimates of a trillion dollars over 10 years have ballooned to at least $1.6 trillion over the decade. Even without the public option, we're looking at hundreds of billions of dollars to set up regional insurance pools and the like.

Blue Dog and centrist Democrats from the midwest and mountain west are listening to the voters and are balking at the price tag as well as government interference in the insurance industry. This could turn out to be the biggest debacle since, well, since Bill Clinton tried national health care 15 years ago.

What to expect at this point is unclear. There's going to be some kind of bill that will be passed that they will call "reform." Whether it means anything will be up to the personal persuasion skills of Obama. So far, he seems to like making threats rather than cajoling people. We'll see how that works on health insurance reform.