Health care strategery, cont’d

HEALTH CARE STRATEGERY, CONT’D…. When it comes to how policymakers will proceed on health care, the broad outlines of a plan are starting to come together. In fact, the parties seem to be gaming out the process fairly well, anticipating their rivals’ next move, their response, and the expected response to the response.

The House, of course, has already made its move, voting last week to destroy the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. Senate Republicans demanded that the House bill receive consideration in the upper chamber, and plotted on how to use existing procedures to force the legislation onto the calendar, whether Democrats like it or not.

As of late last week, Senate Dems didn’t seem especially nervous about any of this — if Republicans want to have the debate, they’d make the most of it, forcing Republicans to vote on politically inconvenient amendments that Dems would design to make the GOP look callous and out of touch.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was fairly explicit about his plans yesterday: “Do Republicans really want to vote to repeal the ban on preexisting conditions? Do they really want to repeal the guidelines that allow young adults who have graduated college and are just entering the workforce to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26? Do they really want to repeal the fix to the Medicare donut hole that will save seniors 50 percent on the cost of their prescription drugs? Do they really want to repeal free checkups for seniors that save taxpayers billions of dollars through better prevention?”

Today, Greg Sargent talked to House Republican staffers who’ve plotted a response to the response.

According to a GOP Senate aide, Republicans may counter by demanding a vote on whether to repeal provisions disliked by business, such as the one that imposes an excise tax on medical device manufacturers. Those manufacturers have been complaining that this provision forces them to shoulder an unfair burden of the cost of expanded health coverage and could lead to layoffs.

The GOP aide says if Dems try to force votes on individual provisions, Republicans will respond in kind. GOP aides are combing through the legislation to find provisions that they can demand votes on, should it come to that.

“If Democrats are pushing for political votes on health care, they can expect the exact same thing,” the aide says. “They don’t really want to go back and forth and relitigate this.”

Actually, if this is really what Republicans have in mind, Dems probably wouldn’t mind the re-litigation at all.

As Republicans are likely realizing, finding scary provisions in the Affordable Care Act is much easier said than done. The individual mandate notwithstanding, the vast majority of the major provisions aren’t just popular, they’re very popular. Indeed, consider the rhetorical breakdown here:

* Democrats’ message: Republicans are voting to discriminate against children with preexisting conditions … and to make it harder for seniors to pay for their medication … and to kick young adults off their families’ plans … and to raise taxes on small businesses … and to increase the deficit … and repeal free preventative care.

* Republicans’ message: Democrats voted to keep in place an excise tax on medical device manufacturers.

Dems are so supposed to be intimidated by this? I don’t see it.