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Health Care–Employer Based?

March 16, 2009

Karen Tumulty has a piece up on time.com about an unusual alliance pushing for a shift away from the employer-based health care.  The fact that Ezekiel Emanuel is on board lends this a lot credibility in my book, but I understand it’s unlikely to pass–America likes babysteps (shout out to “What About Bob?”).

Wyden and Cooper’s approach also has a big following among health-care wonks, among them, noted bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel — brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel — who has been tapped to play a big role in health-care reform in the Obama Administration’s Office of Management and Budget. Emanuel and Wyden teamed up in December to write an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on the limits of employer-based health coverage. And though during the election campaign Barack Obama criticized John McCain for proposing a plan that, like Wyden’s, would make employer-provided health benefits taxable, the Administration has suggested in recent weeks that it is open to such an approach.

Important to note that Christina Romer was both unwilling to say that Obama was considering this, or that he wouldn’t consider it, on Meet the Press this week.  She unwillingness to answer the question was striking and it seemed to me like the politically safe and less attention grabbing line would have been, “Nothing is off the table as we move forward in a bipartisan spirit.  Blah, blah…”  Then again, I don’t think Romer is their strongest spokesperson (which is in no way commentary on her incredible intellect).

Update: Politico also has a piece up on health care.  The image of 9 Senators sitting around throwing out ideas is Capra-esque.  Their Baucus quote on how discussions should be run really sums up his thoughtful approach to policymaking:

“Don’t say no to anything for at least five to 10 minutes,” Baucus said, explaining the meetings. “Let’s just figure how we do all this.”

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