Simply put: It is the only way to get the consumer protections into place. That’s it. Period.
There is no other way. I’ve seen some interesting ideas about pulling out consumer protections and passing those separately. Let’s see how that works:
Scenario 1 – Isolate consumer protections in new bill
- House crafts a bill with only consumer protections included. House debates, passes bill.
- Bill goes to Senate. Senate takes up the bill after they get that cloture vote. You know, the one they can get with 59. Why a cloture vote? Because sending it back re-opens debate, and all the old procedures (60 to reopen debate, 60 to close debate, etc) apply.
- Consumer protections die.
Scenario 2 – New bill for consumer protections, reconciliation route for revenue items
- House crafts a bill with watered-down consumer protections. (pre-existing conditions ban, rescissions, guaranteed issue are considered consumer protections)
- House tries to ram through a public option via reconciliation. Only those provisions which have a direct impact on the budget may be considered via this process; e.g. subsidies, Medicare reforms, the “Cadillac tax”, etc.
- Consumer protections die in the filibuster
- Somehow Senate manages to pull out 51 for the public option, it passes, goes to the President.
- People with pre-existing conditions wait until 2013 when public option finally comes online. They pay 5 times what any insured pays for private insurance because the sick, desperate people who cannot get insurance any other way have no option but to turn to the public option, ballooning the budget and handing a political football over to Republicans.
Scenario 3 – Carve up the whole thing into smaller pieces, add Medicare for All
- House lets Senate bill die.
- House tries to carve it up into smaller pieces, debates, passes consumer protections.
- Senate lets them die.
- Somehow via reconciliation, House expands Medicare.
- Medicare goes bankrupt in 5 years because none of the other Medicare reforms were passed and so we’re faced with bailing out Medicare, playing right into Republicans’ claim that government-run healthcare cannot succeed.
- Sick people pay 5x as much for Medicare.
There’s a bunch of moving parts here. A whole bunch. So when Howard Dean and Jane Hamsher and Chris Van Hollen say the Senate bill is dead, what they are really doing is KILLING HEALTH CARE REFORM ALTOGETHER.
Call Congress. Please.
Update: One additional scenario has emerged this evening.
House puts thru bill via reconciliation, then passes Senate bill
From this post:
- House prepares reconciliation bill with key provisions at issue, passes and sends to Senate.
- Senate makes slight changes to it (pre-approved by House), sends back to House.
- House takes up revised reconciliation measure and Senate bill at that time, passes both.
This scenario emerges out of what appears to be a lack of trust on the part of the Houses that the Senate will undertake reconciliation measures in good faith. Of course, it also means they’re asking the public to trust some pretty complex and edgy procedures. I only see this happening if they put it on a fast track in both House. No delays, no recesses, nothing that can hold things up.