Is the Health Care Deal Real?


Yesterday, I wrote that "the more I read about the [recently announced health care reform] deal, the less I think that's the right way to describe it. With so many factors left uncertain, and the support of so many key players still up in the air, it's more like a hope for a deal, and a show of confidence that reform advocates think might create an air of inevitability." National Review's Robert Costa lends some supporting evidence to this notion:

A senior Senate aide tells us that [reports of a deal were] fueled by a lot of "disinformation" from Reid.

"There is no deal yet and we're nowhere near one," says the aide. "Reid is leading a psych-ops campaign out of his leadership office to make people believe there is a deal. Here's the real story: When Reid came out of conference, only options emerged, not a consensus. Instead of acknowledging this, he's trying to create a sense of inevitability."

"There are still two major problems for Reid," says the aide. "One is the potential trigger in the Office of Personnel Management expansion. That would be a non-starter with at least one member. Two, Reid has problems with his Medicare buy-in idea, since it has not been fully defined to all members. We don't know whether it will be a temporary program or a permanent Medicare buy-in program. And if premiums can't sustain the program, will taxpayers be liable? No one knows."

Obviously, this isn't proof positive: We don't know who the aide is, or even what party the aide works for. And presumably the aide is pushing an agenda of his or her own. But it tracks with the fishy way this supposed deal has been presented so far: Seems like if Democrats actually had a solid deal, they would announce details, and it would be clear that the deal had produced the desired support for the bill — which is, after all, the whole point of making a deal. But so far, specifics remain somewhat vague, and it's not known whether the deal will actually bring 60 Senators on board. So while it's certainly possible that the Senate's most recent bargain (or something close) will end up being what it goes with, I think there's good reason to be skeptical that any of this is even close to final.