I was in a workshop yesterday when the speaker announced Nancy Pelosi had declared the healthcare bill dead. That’s not exactly what I’m reading this morning, although lots of what I’m reading is good.
I had a chance last night to ask Rep. Mike Pence what he’d been hearing. As the 3rd ranking Republican House leader, his ear is as close to the ground as anyone’s. He said the chatter was the Dems would try to pass healthcare in bits and pieces.
So no, the issue of socialized healthcare isn’t dead. No one should rest on any laurels.
Someone in another meeting said to think of the healthcare issue like the deer scene in the movie Tommy Boy. Recall Richard (David Spade) had just hit a deer, and he and Tommy (Chris Farley) decided to put what they thought was a dead deer in the back seat of their car. Here’s what happened next…

I think that’s a good analogy. And with that scene in mind, read this Bloomberg story recapping yesterday’s events…

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her chamber lacks the votes to pass the Senate’s health-care legislation, dashing hopes of a quick resolution for President Barack Obama’s top domestic priority.
“In its present form, without change, I don’t think it’s possible to pass the Senate bill in the House,” Pelosi told reporters today in Washington.
Senate Democrats no longer have the 60 votes they need to overcome Republican delaying tactics and pass legislation after a loss in the Jan. 19 special Senate election in MA. That means the party had to change course from its plan of combining separate House and Senate bills and sending the new measure back for votes in each chamber.
Passing the Senate plan, as is, would be the quickest option because it could go straight to Obama’s desk for his signature. Democrats are considering scaling back the bills to win passage, and Obama may start a new effort to reach out to Republicans, who have been united in opposing the legislation, according to a person familiar with the discussions.
Pelosi, a CA Democrat, said she isn’t ruling out anything and that her party remains committed to passing legislation that would cover tens of millions of uninsured Americans and attempt to curb rising medical costs.
We have to get a bill passed,” she said.
House Democrats oppose Senate provisions including a tax on the most expensive, employer-provided health-insurance plans, Pelosi said. A House leadership aide said Democrats in the chamber would be open to passing a modified Senate bill, rather than passing the current one and depending on a 2nd piece of legislation later that would make fixes.
We are not in a big rush,” Pelosi said. Congress will “take the time it needs to consider the options,” she said.
Bringing Republicans back into negotiations increases the chances that a scaled-down measure might pass even with defections by Democrats who want a more far-reaching bill….
Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have spent the last 2 days talking to their members and trying to plot the next steps. After House Democrats met this morning behind closed doors, several said there is an emerging consensus that breaking the legislation into pieces might be the best path.
“The sense is we shouldn’t drop the subject, but maybe we need to look at some pieces of it,” said Representative Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat.
That would fit with a suggestion Obama made yesterday.
“I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements in the package that people agree on,” Obama said in an interview with ABC News broadcast last night.
Obama’s preferred elements include new insurance industry rules, such as the elimination of lifetime caps on insurance plans and a ban on insurers denying people coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions, according to an administration official. They also include subsidies to help some individuals afford coverage, and cost-containment steps such as empowering an outside panel to control Medicare spending.
A group of 25 House Democrats have begun circulating draft proposals for smaller bills that would not include an individual or employer mandate, any new entitlement programs, or a public option to compete with private insurers….
An initial bill would deal with controlling costs and revising the way doctors and hospitals administer and charge for health care. A 2nd would address the antitrust exemption for insurers and a 3rd would address physician concerns about liability, Pascrell said.
Passing health-care legislation “in micro fashion would allow people to understand what’s in it,” Pascrell said. “I’m saying let’s step back and take this in small steps.”…

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