Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Table Setting and The Scrum

I could never have said it better than David Brooks did this morning:
You want the scrum to be quick so that the bill is passed before some of the interests groups realize that they’ve been decapitated. You want the scrum to be frantic so you can tell your allies that their reservations might destroy the whole effort (this is how you are going to get the liberals to water down the public plan and the moderates to loosen their fiscal rectitude).

The scrum will be an ugly, all-out scramble for dough. You can probably get expanded coverage out of it. You can hammer the hospitals and get much of the $1.2 trillion to pay for the expansion. But you won’t be able to honestly address the toughest issues and still hold your coalition. You won’t get the kind of structural change that will bring down costs long-term. In the scrum, Congress will embrace the easy stuff and bury the hard stuff.

Which is why you have MedPAC. That’s the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission that you want to turn into a health care Federal Reserve Board — an aloof technocratic body of experts that will make tough decisions beyond the reach of politics. You can take every thorny issue, throw it to MedPac and consider it solved.

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