Getting to Yes

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I missed this a couple of days ago, but Robert Pear and David Herszenhorn write in the New York Times that for all the turbulence surrounding healthcare reform right now, there’s actually a surprising amount of bipartisan consensus about certain parts of it:

Lawmakers of both parties agree on the need to rein in private insurance companies by banning underwriting practices that have prevented millions of Americans from obtaining affordable insurance. Insurers would, for example, have to accept all applicants and could not charge higher premiums because of a person’s medical history or current illness. All insurers would have to offer a minimum package of benefits, to be defined by the federal government, and nearly all Americans would be required to have insurance.

….Lawmakers also agree on the need to provide federal subsidies to help make insurance affordable for people with modest incomes. For poor people, Medicaid eligibility would be expanded.

The chaos on Capitol Hill, combined with bitter disagreements over how to pay for the legislation and the role of a public plan, has obscured the areas of potential consensus.  “There is wide agreement on the two elements of the legislation that the public cares about most: insurance market reforms and the expansion of coverage, with subsidies,” said Drew E. Altman, the president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses on health policy.

In other words: community rating plus subsidies for low-income families.  That’s nice to hear.  I’d like a lot more than that, of course, but if we manage to pass a bill that contains reasonably strong forms of both these things, it will be a huge step forward.

(Via Jonathan Zasloff.)

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