The Finance Committee approved its version of health care legislation three months later than expected, but the sense of victory could be short-lived.
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In a potentially more worrisome development for Democrats, Sen. Joe Lieberman revealed on Tuesday that he couldn’t even support the Finance Committee legislation as it was, because he was “afraid that in the end, the Baucus bill is actually going to raise the price of insurance for most of the people in the country.”
And none of this even takes into account the fact that even if Reid can come up with a formula to attract the support of 60 Senators needed to block any filibuster, any bill still has to secure passage in the House.
By creating a bill that passed muster with the Congressional Budget Office and attracted the support of a Republican, the Finance Committee emboldens Blue Dog Democrats in the House to oppose a more costly bill that includes a government plan. Meanwhile, House liberals still maintain that they will not support a bill that does not include a government plan modeled after Medicare.
“While I applaud the Finance Committee for completing its work on the bill, I remain concerned that it does not include a robust public option,” Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, co-chairman of the 80-member House Progessive Caucus, said in a statement via email. “I remain committed to getting the best bill in the House that we can get so that we have a strong negotiating position in conference. Today’s Senate action does not reflect the country’s high approval ratings for a public option, and I believe that any meaningful health care reform must include that vital element to increase access and bring down costs.”
While on Tuesday the media was eager to declare the Finance Committee vote a momentum shift in the health care debate, the sense of victory may prove short-lived.
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