Both Democrats And Republicans Plan Blitz To Shape Public Perceptions
Despite all the drama Thursday, the battle is not yet over for health care overhaul. The Wall Street Journal reports: "Both parties are gearing up for a big push next year to shape public perceptions of the health legislation, after the Senate's passage of its bill Thursday makes final approval increasingly likely." Democrats hope to change the tide of criticism over the legislation as it moves forward, presumably amplified with "images of a historic floor vote, a White House signing ceremony and President Barack Obama's State of the Union address."
Republicans, however, "plan to press ahead with their message on what they consider its problems, including high cost and government overreach. They are planning to target individual lawmakers who voted for it." The PR battle has emerged at a difficult time for Democrats, who must pitch their health overhaul to a country primarily concerned about a flagging economy as campaigns begin to gear up for the 2010 election cycle. GOP critics "are planning to target individual lawmakers who voted for it" (Bendavid, 12/24).
The Washington Post reports that as the Senate and House seek to reconcile their bills, a crucial test is whether Democratic leaders will be able to agree on a replacement for the so-called public option, a government-run insurance plan, favored by House Democrats, but dropped in the Senate to secure moderates' votes.
"Among the options under discussion: pressing the Senate to increase the federal subsidies that would be offered to low- and middle-income people who do not have access to affordable coverage through an employer; having a single national marketplace for people buying insurance, rather than 50 state-based exchanges, as the Senate prefers; and moving up the launch date of those marketplaces and subsidies to 2013, one year earlier than under the Senate bill" (Montgomery and MacGillis, 12/24).