Monday, February 1, 2010

Behind the Scenes

It may not be making the headlines, but the healthcare bill is not dead…yet.

Many have concluded that the only hope for resuscitating the healthcare legislation is to push the issue off the front page and give lawmakers time to work out a new compromise and shift public perception of the bill.

“A little bit of time and quiet could help,” said Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, a conservative Democrat who was among a group of centrist Democrats from the House and Senate who met last week to discuss a way forward on healthcare.

“Human nature being what it is, it’s always easier to be against something than to be for it. And if you create any uncertainty with change, opponents can jump on that and just try to scare people. . . . That has been hard to overcome politically,” Pryor said. “Maybe over time, people will have a chance to understand what is in the legislation.”

The other bump in the road is that there are some truly odious provisions in the Senate bill, including funding — or lack of it — for reproductive choice. It would require a leap of faith that once the bill is passed the necessary changes would be made afterward to fix those. Given the querulous record of the House and Senate, it’s a dangerous leap. But the alternative is just as bleak for the millions of people who are going to suffer without some form of reform. If it was an easy choice, it would have been accomplished by now.