Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has brought forth a bill for consideration by the Senate that blends the two major committee-born bills that had previously been wending their way through the Senate.
This bill has the primary advantage of being only slightly better than the House version, though this relative difference is akin to a choice between Maoism and Stalinism.
At $848B, the bill is indeed less expensive than the House version, and as we'll hear repeated over and over in the coming days, CBO projects it will cut the deficit by $130B. Of course, CBO is required to score bill as they are written, and for any of the "deficit reduction" to actually occur, the Congress would have to behave quite differently than it has for the last--oh, forty plus years of quasi-socialist medicine known as Medicare and Medicaid.
Reid has a less-onerous public option in his bill (state based "exchanges", from which states may "opt out"--though they may not "opt out" of the cost), and it is paid for with cuts to Medicare and through a tax on "gold-plated" health insurance policies (as opposed to the House bill, which levies a direct surtax on income above $500,000 for individuals and $1,000,000 for families (a 5% surtax, in addition to Medicare cuts).
Reid has done everything he possibly can to hold his fractious caucus together on this, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be able to convince his "moderate" Democrats from Red States to go for this.
So now we have the other side's playbook--the House as expected, has come forward with a horrific, expensive, and socialist takeover of the American healthcare system. The Senate has come forward with something just short of that. Republicans and Conservatives must align themselves against these bills even as they continue to advocate for positively messaged reforms--greater choice, greater market access, and lower costs.
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