Brown’s election may ending up being a positive for health-care reform

Since Brown’s election cost them their filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate, Democrats have been in a more pragmatic mode.”

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 7, 2010

Remember how Republican Scott P. Brown’s victory in January’s Senate race in Massachusetts was supposed to represent a mortal blow to health-care reform?

“Probably back to the drawing board,” Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) declared the next day. “Might be dead,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) surmised. “We’re back to where we were maybe even years ago,” concluded Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

But rather than dooming the effort, Brown’s win appears to have helped Democrats refocus the legislation and their strategy for selling it. Once on track to produce a bill that Republicans were prepared to depict as partisan and laden with special-interest perks, Democrats now expect to unveil legislation that costs less and more aggressively tackles health-care inflation — a package they say could leave them less vulnerable in November. It drops the “Cornhusker Kickback” that so infuriated voters, and includes a few Republican ideas tacked on by President Obama.

“There’s no government takeover of health care; there’s an expansion of the private market, subsidies, more choice — I mean, it’s so much of what many of us had hoped for from the very beginning,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a moderate and reluctant supporter of the original Senate bill.

The House and Senate will launch the final legislative phase this week, with the aim of holding votes before the end of the month. The action will come in two phases. First the House will vote on the bill the Senate approved on Christmas Eve. Then each chamber is expected to consider a package of “fixes” offered under a budget rule known as reconciliation that will protect it from a GOP filibuster in the Senate.  Continue…

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