The Corner

Health-Care Politics Update

Jonathan Cohn notes that allowing health-care legislation to pass by a simple majority vote in the Senate will make all the interest groups involved in the debate even more likely than they already are to try to shape a bill to their liking rather than to defeat it. David Brooks reports, “A recent Pew Research Center survey found that while there is less support for a health care overhaul than there was in 1993, the public still wants reform that at least improves the current system.” Ron Brownstein has another nugget of information: “Drew Altman, president of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, says that the number to watch in the health care debate is the percentage of people who think that reform will make their family better-off rather than worse-off. In the Heartland poll, the first group was roughly twice as large as the second.”

From items one and two I take the lesson that there is less public support for a D.C.-led overhaul than there was in 1993, but will be more interest-group support (particularly from health-care providers that think they will get new subsidies and large businesses that want to offload health-care costs and headaches). Republican opponents of liberal health-care reform are going to have to drive down public support for it before they get business interests to flake off. The process won’t work in reverse, the way it did in 1993-94. From item 3 I conclude that raising the number of people who think they will lose from liberal health legislation is the most promising strategy for going about that.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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