From this point, coming out of conference with a health reform bill the President will sign into law looks fairly easy. The votes are there; maybe another sweetener or two here and there should close the deal. The Senate Democrats have a lot of experience, some recent, with sweeteners.
Early on, the Republicans didn’t want to have anything to do with health reform. They were intrenched in a pouting mode. Then, the Republicans actually come up with some good ideas, but they were not needed, neither the ideas nor Republican votes. Health reform was then left to the Democrats to mess up and they did a supreme job. That is, a supreme job of messing up. Both the House version and the Senate version are a calamity.
Nobody seems pleased with the bills. Many seem to think the final health bill will be counter-productive. That, it will make medical care and cost much worse. Those that do voice support acknowledge the bills are terribly flawed, but it merits approval as a start. Then, once it becomes law, it will be easier to amend. That is poor reasoning.
The “cost-neutral” feature has been somewhat sneered and winked at, unabashedly. The Congressional Budget Office, was enlisted to dress the cost up, give it some lipstick and a party dress. But, I think if you read the CBO more carefully, they will say the likelihood of any savings from the bills is a shot in the dark. Just, too many unknowns. Other, reputable analyzers say the bills are not fiscally responsible and will accelerate the debt crisis. The debt crisis looms anyway. The debt condition is fragile, and any small misstep could put us there.