Even if Reid is able to come up with an approach to abortion that is acceptable to Ben Nelson that won’t antagonize liberals into withdrawing their support, I don’t understand his approach to the public option. At the outset of this attempt a health-care reform, I wondered why the Democrats didn’t just propose a Medicaid expansion to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, a Medicare buy-in at age 55 with premium subsidies, and the opening of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to everyone with premium subsidies for lower income purchasers. That proposal would have been a lot simpler and would not have required a 2,000-page bill. And now it seems that they are proposing something very close to that approach with a lot of additional complexity. If the Dems do end up going with an expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, it will of course be an economic disaster, particularly when they seem increasingly unwilling to impose any sort of fiscal discipline. It will be interesting to see how the CBO scores that approach.
– Leonard J. Nelson III, a professor at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, is author of Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Health Care.