Congressional Republicans dub their plan the Patients Choice Act, but it is nearly identical to the McCain health care plan defeated by voters last November.
(The EDS ad on "herding cats" remains my favorite Super Bowl ad.)
The plan has more rhetoric than numbers but its key tenets are these:
- Universal coverage feh.
- Tax current health insurance benefits, but give that back in the form of a tax credit to pay for existing health plans.
- Nationalize the insurance market and end malpractice suits.
- Privatize Medicare.
- Let the poor eat prevention rhetoric.
It is, in other words, a non-starter, but it does let conservatives say they proposed something so they can compare whatever Democrats offer to Hurricane Katrina relief. (I don't think the Katrina message means what they think it means, but I'm not a Republican.)
Reviews are mixed.
- Politico says it indicates some areas where the two parties might reach consensus, as in the creation of regional insurance exchanges and use of drivers license offices to sell coverage.
- The Wall Street Journal featured a frowning sponsor of the plan, Rep. Paul Ryan, acknowledging it has "little chance of success."
- Congressional Quarterly said many Republicans are concluding health care is an issue that "resonates with the public" and are looking to get their ideas into a Democratic plan.
- Kaiser emphasized other actions of the day, including a Blue Cross ad campaign against a public option and a union effort to stop a cap on the health care tax exemption.
If Democrats can unite behind anything they can win passage of health care reform, probably with moderate Republican support. This assumes they can herd their own cats.