Meet the New Democratic Health Care Plan, Same as the Old Democratic Health Care Plan


Determined not to waste nearly a year of effort spent crafting politically viable universal health insurance legislation, Democrats have settled on a strategy to pass the health care bill: Get House Democrats to pass the Senate bill, then use reconciliation to make the necessary changes.

If you've been paying attention, you may have noticed that this was the exact same option that Democrats had last week, and they didn't have the votes for it then. There's no indication that they have them now.

Part of the problem is that reconciliation, which allows Democrats to circumvent a Republican filibuster and pass the bill with 51 votes, is limited by what's known as the Byrd rule. That rules states that reconciliation may only be used on revenue-relevant provisions in the bill. There's considerable disagreement over whether the amendments that House Democrats hope to make—to the exchanges, the subsidies, and treatment of abortion—would be meet the Byrd rule's criteria.

Ultimately, it will be up to the Senate's Parliamentarian to make the call. Now, if he makes a call that Democrats don't like, there's always the option to fire him and replace him with someone else who makes the "right" call. But given the way the Nelson Medicaid deal has played with public support (ie: terribly), I highly doubt that Democrats would be interested in being seen to be effectively firing the refs in order to get calls in their favor.