by Bob Geary
The U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee reported its health-care reform bill today, with the Democrats -- including the previously fence-sitting Sen. Kay Hagan, D-NC -- unanimous in their support. It includes a public option. Whether it's a strong public option or a weak public option is open to interpretation. But Hagan said she was looking for a state-based approach. And the HELP bill is state-based, albeit with a federal insurance product somewhat akin to Medicare. The devil is, naturally, in the many, many details.
And from what I read, the HELP bill is only one of at least three pieces of Senate legislation that will have to be merged somehow into a single, comprehensive bill (or package) by Democratic leaders. Two others will expand Medicaid and (from the Senate Finance Committee) address costs and also propose, instead of the HELP bill's public option, some sort of state-level "coop" approach. Meanwhile, House Democrats have produced their own rather different, and arguably stronger, health-care reform legislation.
Fortunately, we can all study up over the July 4th holiday.