ObamaCare: Friday nuggets and tidbits
posted at 1:37 am on November 13, 2009 by Karl
With Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid planning to bring ObamaCare to the floor next week, where do things stand? It depends who you ask. James Pethokoukis writes:
Just talked to a very insightful Capitol Hill Watcher who doesn’t think Harry Reid has the votes in the Senate to pass anything resembling comprehensive healthcare reform. You can count out Lieberman, Landrieu, Nelson and maybe even Bayh.
Assuming Reid can get 60 votes to proceed to the floor sometime next week, we are talking December being taken up with debate on amendments concerning the public option, abortion, taxes. As it is, Reid is reworking the Senate bill on the fly. One day it is a new version of a PO trigger, the next a hike in payroll taxes. Reconciliation? “That ship has sailed.”
On the other hand, Keith Hennessey still sees a 60% chance that the Democrats pass a partisan, comprehensive takeover of the healthcare system this Congress — though his analysis is in some ways leaning against passage.
The six largest publicly-traded health insurance companies had been taking a beating since Labor Day. They took a 3.7% jump the day after Election Day, and went up about the same as the broader market the Monday after the House passed PelosiCare. Stocks like WellPoint, UnitedHealth and CIGNA have mostly recovered.
The market does not necessarily suggest ObamaCare is in trouble, as the big insurers would still back a law requiring everyone to buy their product. It might suggest market sentiment about the odds of a “public option” making it into law, which opens the question of whether the Congressional Democrats can bring themselves to settle for a bill without a government insurance plan (the Obama administration almost certainly would).
Finally, at Pollster.com, Democratic pollster Mark Blumenthal wonders why the red “opposition” line rose during October. His theories are: (1) more negative ads from reform opponents; and (2) media coverage focusing on process and Democratic disunity. Those are reasonable enough — and on the latter point, I would suggest that the coverage has necessarily focused on Congress, a rarely popular institution.
However, if you look at the chart, it shows approval of ObamaCare in a basic range for months, while disapproval has generally risen steadily since May. The Democrats were able to put on a full-court press in August, though not enough of one to overcome the disapproval driven by ObamaCare protesters. That phase peaked with Pres. Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress. Since that speech, it appears that the trends have simply reverted to their general trends — trends that make time the enemy of ObamaCare. The Democrats know this, which is why they are trying so hard to ram their bills through this year… but that prospect seems more unlikely every day.
Update: As if on cue, Gallup reports:
More Americans now say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage (50%) than say it is (47%). This is a first since Gallup began tracking this question, and a significant shift from as recently as three years ago, when two-thirds said ensuring healthcare coverage was the government’s responsibility.
When Bill Clinton tells Congressional Dems they are winning, do you think they remember his track record on this issue?
Update x2: Courtesy of the HuffPo:
A Goldman Sachs analysis of health care legislation has concluded that, as far as the bottom line for insurance companies is concerned, the best thing to do is nothing. A close second would be passing a watered-down version of the Senate Finance Committee’s bill.
So we can likely expect more lobbying and more anti-ObamaCare advertising.