Health care failure can’t be an option

HEALTH CARE FAILURE CAN’T BE AN OPTION…. Sam Stein reports today that “a host of Democratic lawmakers and health care observers insisted that health care legislation will be passed into law in some form or another,” even after the expected results from Massachusetts are announced, “if for no other reason than because it has to.”

One top Democrat said it would be a moderately simple sell to get the House to pass the Senate’s bill, provided the assurances were there to change it down the road.

“The pieces that need to be fixed — the affordability and Cadillac tax — are all budget issues, which you can do in reconciliation,” the official said.

Brian Beutler reported earlier that at least one House leader already sounds amenable to the most straightforward of the available options.

At his weekly press conference this morning, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters that the Senate health care bill would be better than no reform at all. He also insisted that, if Republican Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts Senate special election tonight, Congress can act to pass reform in the approximately 15-day window between tonight and when Republican Scott Brown is officially seated.

I asked Hoyer whether he believes the Senate’s health care bill would be better than no bill at all.

“I think the Senate bill clearly is better than nothing,” Hoyer said.

This strikes me as something of a no-brainer. If Dems think the midterms will be difficult, they should try to imagine how much worse it will be if they spend a year working on health care reform, get a bill passed by both chambers, and then run for re-election on the heels of failure.

The quickest, most direct path to getting back on track is passing the reform bill. Once it’s signed into law, and Democrats have demonstrated an ability to deliver on its agenda, lawmakers can move on to other issues, and the White House can try to change public attitudes about the accomplishment.