Looking Back: Moments That Shifted Health Reform Conversation
News outlets look back at the major points in the health care debate that affected the health reform conversation.
Kaiser Health News reports on the "critical compromises" and events that shaped the final version of the health care reform bill, including the Democratic loss of Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat and the rise of the Tea Party movement. "The political developments are well-known: A so-called gang of six Democratic and Republican senators, led by Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., failed to forge a bipartisan agreement. Concerns about the federal deficit swelled. Grass-roots conservatives filled congressional town hall meetings last August and helped to propel Republican Scott Brown to victory in Massachusetts. That deprived Democrats of a filibuster-proof Senate majority and transformed them from confident victors of the 2008 elections to nervous incumbents." The changes mean 23 million people in America will still be left without coverage, more than 6 million more than "originally intended," Kaiser Health News reports (Rau, 3/23).
Politico, on how the "C-SPAN summit" changed the debate: "Months of congressional negotiations had been anything but transparent, and that was bad enough. By January, Obama was starting to worry that the prolonged legislative wrangling with all the side deals and late-night sessions was sapping public confidence in a bill he hoped would be a cornerstone of his presidency. Obama's solution, which he settled on while writing his State of the Union address, was to embrace an idea from chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to hold a daylong summit at which Republicans and Democrats would debate the bill on C-SPAN." The White House views this as a turning point in the bill's fate (Budoff Brown, 3/24).
The Associated Press reports that Obama's determination came from reading "the 10 letters he reads each day from ordinary Americans. The letters became talismans for him: He carried them around. He recited their stories. He used them as rallying cries. (Or as props, as his critics saw it.). And it was in those letters that Obama found a compelling counterpoint to abstract policy debates" (Benac, 3/24).
In a second story, The Washington Post reports on Sen. Ted Kennedy's legacy in urging health care reform and on the visitors to his gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday. "The grave site of Edward M. Kennedy consists of only a white cross and a flat marble footstone, but it has attracted hundreds of visitors during the past several days." Kennedy's wife spent several hours at the grave last weekend, and his son Rep. Patrick Kennedy left a note at the grave that said "Dad-The unfinished business is done."
"The political odyssey of health-care reform is in many ways the story of Ted Kennedy. He dedicated his career to reforming the system; his Republican replacement in the Senate, Scott Brown, threatened the passage of Obama's bill; Democrats persevered in part because they rallied around Kennedy's memory" (Saslow and Rucker, 3/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.