As Scott noted earlier today, some conservatives are holding out hope that the House will push back against the version of health care reform passed by the Senate and that, as a result, no legislation will be enacted. It could happen that way.
However, it is also possible that House push-back will result in the passage of legislation more to the House’s liking, which is to say more radical. Washington Post reporters Lori Montgomery and Alec MacGillis explore this possibility, which they describe as a “magic pill.”
Among the possibilities for modifying the Senate bill to conform more closely with the aspirations of the left are: pressing the Senate to increase the federal subsidies that would be offered to low- and middle-income people who do not have access to affordable coverage through an employer and having a single national marketplace for people buying insurance, rather than 50 state-based exchanges.
These modifications wouldn’t chase away House “moderates.” They have already voted for the more radical House version of “reform.”
Such modifications might well be problematic on the Senate side, But we shouldn’t assume that the Senate has no room to move. With the possible exception of Joe Lieberman, the 60 Senators who voted “yes” today are a pliable lot, and the leadership can always sweeten the deal for given Senators, as we have seen.
From a center-left perspective the only major problem with moving more in the direction of the House bill is cost. But when push comes to shove, are there really any serious “budget hawks” among the 60 Senators who make up the super-majority? I’m not convinced that there are.
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