Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Brown's Election Means for Health Care

Oh how I miss you Ted! The senate seat that was filled for so long by one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, supporter of healthcare reform is gone. State Sen. Scott Brown's (R-MA) win and takeover of Mr. Kennedy’s seat has huge repercussions. This seat has been Democratic for 50 years. That is a huge momentum swinger for the Republicans.

What does this mean? The Democrats 60-vote filibuster-proof majority in the Senate is gone. Mr. Brown has been campaigning on the message that he would be the 41st vote in the Senate AGAINST passage of the Democrats' plans for health reform. In all likelihood, the Dems need all 60 votes to pass meaningful healthcare reform.

Backup plans??

1.) Democrats are contemplating trying to pass the bill before Mr. Brown’s seat gets confirmed. That takes about 15 days, so it isn’t very likely. Plus, rushing a bill through could look bad to the public and give the Republicans ammunition to eventually overturn whatever is passed.

2.) Another option on the table is to have the House pass the Senate bill, and then use a procedural rule known as "budget reconciliation" to amend it later on. This is not a great option because reconciliation is a long and complicated problem that lawmakers would rather avoid.

3.) Get the vote somewhere else. Who will be the brave Republican to step up to the plate and save the country of a reform blockage.....which when you break it down is saving lives. Many more than I could ever imagine saving in my one simple vote. Come on Olympia Snowe...the country needs you.

What I hope comes out of this is for the Republican’s to step up and start helping fix the problem of healthcare reform. Right now they have done a good job of "Just say NO.” We all know the current system cannot be sustained. I don’t believe the public will allow for a complete blockage of healthcare reform. As one of my mentors always says, “Knowing the answer is the easy part, making it happen is the hard part.” Maybe it all starts with tort reform...I don’t know. Now that they have the seat...It’s time for them to bring something to the table.

David Darrigan, DO

Ed. Note: Dr. Darrigan’s post reflects his personal opinions, and not necessarily those of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

George Stephanopoulus spoke with President Obama today, and reports that the President was not “waving the white flag,” but seemed focused on finding a “peaceful” solution to controversy about health care. AFG

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