by digby

According to the NY Times, this is what the congress is considering as an alternative health care reform package:

¶Insurers could not deny coverage to children under the age of 19 on account of pre-existing medical conditions.

¶Insurers would have to offer policyholders an opportunity to continue coverage for children through age 25 or 26.

¶The federal government would offer financial incentives to states to expand Medicaid to cover childless adults and parents.

¶The federal government would offer grants to states to establish regulated markets known as insurance exchanges, where consumers and small businesses could buy coverage.

¶The federal government would offer tax credits to small businesses to help them defray the cost of providing health benefits to workers.

¶If a health plan provided care through a network of doctors and hospitals, it could not charge patients more for going outside the network in an emergency. Co-payments for emergency care would have to be the same, regardless of whether a hospital was in the insurer’s network of preferred providers.

Yeah, that's something to run on. Maybe they could ask the insurance companies really nicely not to raise premiums and deny coverage to sick people. I'm sure they'd be happy to help out.

I assume that everyone's still hell bent on blaming the liberals for refusing to pass the Senate bill, but it's still not clear that they are to blame. Newsweek reports:

Stupak & Co. can refuse to go with the White House–supported option of the House approving the Senate bill, which has weaker abortion restrictions. There is a second option that would allow for more bargaining: the House passes the Senate bill with the assurance that budget reconciliation (which would only require 51 votes in the Senate) would follow. As Jon Alter wrote today earlier on The Gaggle, it’s "a messy approach but doable." But since haggling in budget reconciliation would be limited to the budgetary issues, there would likely be little room to change abortion language.

Stupak has said many, many times before that he won’t support a bill without his amendment. If that would mean the downfall of health-care reform, then so be it. "It's not the end of the world if [the bill] goes down," he told The New York Times a few weeks ago. And this isn’t a Ben Nelson situation, where he’s a lone politician throwing down the gauntlet. Stupak claims—and so far, I haven’t heard any dispute to this—that he has 10 or 11 Democrats committed to opposing the Senate bill’s less restrictive language.

The fact still remains that that even if every liberal voted for the Senate bill, they still wouldn't have the votes because of Stupak and his handful of anti-choice zealots. And I'm seeing nothing out there that indicates that they have changed their minds in the wake of Brown's victory and are now persuaded to vote for health care reform if only those damned liberals weren't making such a fuss. Indeed, quite the opposite:

On the day after the upset Senate victory for Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) had some choice words about the election, the Democratic leadership, and health care reform in an interview on the Fox Business Network. By "choice words," we mean "wake-up call," "disillusioned," "overreach," "special deal," and "dead."

Stupak is a key Democratic moderate, so his outspoken and frank take on his party and the future of health care reform represents an unusual, and likely unwelcome, break of unity and protocol for the Democrats.

Asked Wednesday what the Massachusetts election means for his Democratic caucus, Stupak said, "I think for the party, it's hopefully a wake-up call to leadership that the agenda you set and the pace you're have to be more inclusive of all members."

On health care, Stupak said the leadership erred by proposing a massive package when a smaller, more targeted bill would have been far preferable. "They tried to hit a home run with health care instead of hitting -- let's get a single, let's get a double. You know, build on this. But they went for the whole grand slam and it got thrown back. It got too big, too controversial, and it's just like they overreached."


Despite all of that, however, the congressman said the House can and should act on health care reform now.

"We are so close. I hope we do not lose this opportunity.

Just don't ask him to vote for the Senate's bill, which includes abortion language that Stupak has called unacceptable. He is the author of more restrictive abortion language adopted by the House.

"Everyone's talking about Plan B, Plan B is dead," he said. "We're not passing the Senate bill, so you best come up with Plan C now. "

I would love to know which of Stupak's ten or eleven anti-choice zealots are going to change their votes and vote yes now? Because unless they do, there will be no bill no matter what the liberals do.

It's driving me nuts that people don't see where the real roadblock is here, but I suppose it's always easiest to blame the hippies --- this despite the fact that at every step of the way the liberals have given in and the conserva-dems have doubled down. Now in the end game the social conservatives are holding fast and everyone says it's the House liberals who are the problem because they aren't publicly cheering the notion that the House of Representatives is Ben Nelson's bitch. Infuriating.

Update: Ezra catalogs all the possiblities, including the "pared back to worse than nothing" option outlined above (which he rejects as useless.) Since I think there's no way that the "ignore Massachusetts" option is feasible, I'm with "bow to the narrative." It's clean. I find it hard to believe that anyone's contemplating it, but if there's a chance to salvage that much I'd be thrilled.