Republican Bob Corker Floats Wyden-Bennett Health Care Idea?

Republican Bob Corker Floats Wyden-Bennett Health Care Idea?


As many of you already know, Obama is set to give a speech next week that will either save or scuttle health care. I think we can all agree on that much.

The question is: what will he propose?

Well, at least one unlikely Republican health care reform advocate is already floating his trial balloon and it sounds a lot like the Wyden-Bennett bill that
mw and I agreed on last week
. (PS – Yes, we actually agreed. You should go read that now before I change my mind. :-) )

Here’s more about Corker’s proposal from Wash Post:

“There is a common ground,” Corker said Wednesday in an interview before his final town hall meeting. “It’s half a loaf, possibly, from the administration’s viewpoint. But what it does is take us way down the field.” […]

Many of the proposals Corker mentioned to his constituents are ideas that Democrats also support and have included in their own reform plans. As he sees it, insurers would no longer be allowed to deny coverage for preexisting conditions, Corker told the crowd, and would offer an array of plans via a new insurance exchange, unrestricted by the current boundaries of state insurance laws. To help the uninsured gain coverage, the government would provide vouchers or tax credits, and would tax the most generous employer-offered plans to pay the cost.

But Corker is making it very clear: no public option.

As I mentioned last month on a couple of occasions, there was really no hope for it anyway and we were headed down a path towards compromise once Dems were unable to get these bills out of committee.

And even though some think Obama will still pass a bill with a monolithic public option via reconciliation, I don’t buy it. This thing is too big, the stakes are too high and he could, in one fell swoop, completely alienate the independents who voted for “change” last fall.

That’s why these signs from Republicans are encouraging. Even the Gang of Six, which had fractured after Enzi and Grassley inexplicably started actively campaigning against healthy care reform last week, is coming back together to try and work through some things. I have no idea if they’ll actually come up with a solution, but it’s at least a sign that Republicans might be having second thoughts about not being part of this thing. Now we just have to hope that they’re genuine.

More as it develops…

  • Alistair

    I like the Wyden-Bennett & Olympia Snowes Tigger Option but the problem, is he is facing resistance from the progressive left who are threatening that if it doesn’t include a strong public option they will not back health care reform back by the Senate which is a bipartisan bill. Maybe House Progressive Democrats are calling their bluff but it sound very serious. So the new question is will the Progressive end up destroying the Health Care plan and risk alienating Morderates and Independence in 2010?

  • Nick Benjamin

    The difficulty with your analysis of the independent vote is that polls show a plurality of independents LIKE the public option. They don’t want it to be mandatory, and they don’t want it to be a strong public option; but they like the idea of having another option.

    As far as I can tell nobody actually opposes the public option for policy reasons. If you want to protect the insurance companies from unfair competition making the public option extremely weak is actually the best plan. The co-opps make sense only if you are Kent Conrad and you want to be remembered as the father of health co-ops.

    Did Corker actually say he’d support Wyden-Bennett? That taxes all health plans, not just the most expensive ones. And to Republicans from TN that distinction is a big deal.

  • Jim S

    I view the problem with not having a public option as being very simple. Pass all the regulations of the insurance industry that are necessary. Create a system that provides the necessary level of subsidies to those who cannot afford what the industry provides. Do all of the things the Wyden-Bennett proposal and all of those like them say we need to do. The end result? Think about the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the gutting of Glass-Steagal. How long after a pendulum swing allowing the Republicans and conservative Democrats to be the majority with a Bush-type Republican President to have power it would take for de-regulation to regain the upper hand and everything done in the name of reform to be undone? Not long at all. Which is probably the main reason to make reform something weak and easily undone.