Democrats in the House need to pass the Senate bill by the end of February. The reforms are too important to sacrifice to the chance that a better bill will somehow materialize.
Should they try to make it better through reconciliation? Yes.
Should they pass it if they don't get a companion reconciliation bill? Absolutely.
This is where I disagree with Firedog Lake, Moveon.org, and other progressive zealots. Yes, the bill is filled with pork, does not fix major problems with the healthcare system, and does not include a good public option. But it is a bill that has passed. And we can fix it as we go forward.
Senator Kennedy lamented that he did not help get healthcare reform passed under President Nixon. If healthcare had passed in the early 1970s, then we would have had over 35 years to make it better since then. If we do not pass healthcare reform now, then we may have to wait for more than 35 years to get a President to try to get it passed. Republicans will not try to pass healthcare reform. They have made that clear with 40 (now 41) votes. No future Republican President will redraw this line in the sand.
Similarly, no Democratic President will try to pass healthcare reform any time soon. It helped destroy President Bill Clinton's agenda. It is in the process of wreaking havoc on the rest of President Obama's agenda. With the devestation of two Democratic Presidencies in its wake, what future president would want to take on helathcare reform?
And yet it is vital that healthcare reform get passed. Without reform, insurance companies will get worse and quickly. They will see the end of reform as a free pass to continue putting their bottom line ahead of people. More -- not fewer -- people will be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, more denials of coverage will take place, and more consolidation will leave consumers with even fewer choices.
Not even the Republicans will be pleased with the monster they will have created. After all one of the greatest casualties of the lost reform will be -- small businesses. It is small businesses who have the hardest time getting and keeping quality health insurance for their employees. If a business of 50 to 100 employees has one person with a catastrophic health condition in one family, then that will cause massive increases in health insurance costs for the whole business. This leads to difficult, if not impossible choices, for the small businesses. Do they drop or increase coverage? Do they increase co-pays, deductibles, and dependent coverage costs? Or do they fire employees or cut wages to make up for the healthcare costs?
This is just one of the tremendous consequences that will result if healthcare reform is not passed now with or without reconciliation.