Health care reform plans come out of the woodwork

Political watchers speculate that Colorado’s freshman U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is playing hardball with unions and business to push for labor and health care reforms. A fellow Democrat, Colorado congressional delegation veteran Rep. Diana DeGette, says that she too will be pushing a plan, but the popular single-payer system isn’t politically possible.

Today TMC MediaWire Healthcare Blogger Lindsay Beyerstein points to a new negotiating tactic advanced by Ezra Klein at the American Prospect.

Last Thursday, the House and Senate passed budgets for fiscal year 2010. The House version includes critical language that could open the door for health care reform in 2009 — and not a moment too soon. Unemployment is skyrocketing, increasing numbers of Americans are going without health insurance, and Democrats are looking to pass a health care reform bill fast.

In the American Prospect, Ezra Klein explains three ways that budget reconciliation could be used to fast-track health care reform by bypassing a filibuster, allowing reform to pass with a simple majority vote.

The three options are: regular reconciliation, delayed-onset, and do-over. Klein thinks there’s a real chance that the delayed-onset or do-over reconciliation options could work. Delayed-onset reconciliation would kick in only if the Democrats and the Republicans haven’t passed a health care bill by a certain date. Do-over reconciliation would be based on a gentleman’s agreement between the chairs of the House and the Senate budget committees to pass budget amendments if the two parties can’t agree on a health care reform package within a certain amount of time.

Whoever prevails in bringing forward the long-delayed health care reform — Bennet, DeGette or Klein — the watchword appears to be compromise.

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Wendy Norris

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