With the public option seemingly off the table, Harry Reid and Senate Democrats had to look for another idea to sway votes for the healthcare bill. Their latest offering? Expand Medicare to allow a buy in for those between the ages of 55 and 64. This Medicare option now appears to be off the table, but what’s next?
While Democrats touted the Medicare expansion as an alternative to public option, in reality it accomplished the same thing as the public option: it paved the road to single-payer healthcare. By expanding Medicare to cover more Americans, raising the income qualifications for Medicaid and continuing to expand SCHIP (State Childrens’ Health Insurance Program) you have a ever growing number of Americans dependent on these entitlement programs.
Fortunately, Medicare expansion didn’t have the votes. This weak attempt at an alternative to the public option didn’t provide the 60 votes Harry Reid needs to pass this bill. Over the weekend Senator Lieberman confirmed that he would not support the Medicare expansion as an alternative to the public option.
At this point, one wonders what the point is of continuing with the current bill. Even if the Senate bill passes without a public option and without Medicare expansion, you still have to reconcile the House and Senate bills. You likely loose the vote of those Democrats that hoped for the public option. You also lose the Democrats that are truly opposed to abortion funding as the Senate bill does include federal funding for abortion services. Do you pick up any Republicans? Not if they are reading the latest polling numbers showing ever growing opposition to the bill.
As Democrats cling to the hope of eventual single-payer healthcare and try to save their bill, their desperation is showing. It’s time to scrap the current bill in its entirely and go back to the drawing board.