Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Tale of Two Holiday Parties for the U.S. Senate's Health Reform Amendment

As the Disease Management Care Blog predicted, it looks like a health reform bill is going to win Senate passage. There is a good, if opinionated, summary here if you don't want to read the compromise amendment that has 60 Senators' support. The prospects for this 'legislative breakthrough' reaching the President's desk for signature looks bright and, aside from some nattering nabobs, congratulations are being passed all around.

The DMCB isn't fooled by the Democrats' celebration. Their public face may be about breaking open the bubbly, donning the party hats, collecting around the piano and lustily singing to this 'genuine reform that offers security,' or 'the culmination of a struggle make health care reform a reality. They claim to be in a 'very, very good mood' and 'jubilant' with a huge victory over the outraged and blundering Republican opposition.

Don't believe it. Behind closed doors, the DMCB suspects their glad-handing and back-slapping are muted. A few key Senators stymied the public option, voter support waned and Mr. Obama's considered eloquence was barely enough to pass a reform bill outside of the narrowest of legislative margins. Think sighs around the punch bowls, glum guests arriving late and leaving early while muted conversations conduct political autopsies, all while gazing into the distance at.....

...the bright lights, the sounds of great merriment and windy toasts with clinking glasses across in another part of town. That's right, the folks who favored market-based insurance and opposed the 'public option' every step of the way are partying far outside the media spotlight. For now, they don't have to fear that they will be put out of business. Instead, they improbably stopped a populist President and his hostile majority of Democratic allies in their single payor tracks and, what's more, snagged a mandate that requires everyone to buy their products. Huzzah, skal, salut, mazel tov and cheers!

And don't expect anyone from the health insurance industry to give anything other than the blandest of non-comments to the media. If they're smart, they'll keep their public heads down Tiger Woods style and take satisfaction in knowing that the President knows that they know they won this round. Handily.

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