Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Medicare for More

One way to expand healthcare coverage to more people is to offer Medicare to people under 65. It is a program that is already up and running, it works, and it is very popular with the people who are on it. Ezra Klein looks at the possible compromise on the public option that is being considered in the Senate.

Sources who have been briefed on the negotiations say that Medicare buy-in is attracting the most interest. Expanding Medicaid is running into more problems, though there’s some appeal because, unlike increasing subsidies, expanding Medicaid actually saves you money. There’s also ongoing discussion about tightening regulations on insurers, but I don’t know the precise menu of options being considered.

The negotiations are fluid right now, and there’s nothing close to agreement. But there is interest, and everyone remains at the table. The broader point is that the public option compromise is increasingly becoming a health-care reform compromise, and the focus is returning, usefully, to the goals of the bill. That’s good for both moderates and liberals, as everyone who votes for this bill has a stake in seeing it work, and the intense attention to the increasingly weakened public option had begun to distract from the need to improve other elements of the legislation.

The only problem, as Atrios points out, is that it might actually work, and that, of course, would screw its chances.