A Strategic Split for Healthcare Reform

A lot of liberal bloggers like the idea of splitting health care reform into two bills:  one that does the expensive stuff (public option, Medicare/Medicaid cuts) through budget reconciliation, and one that does more popular stuff, like various insurance regulations, and gets passed with sixty votes.  Sounds plausible . . . if they can get the Massachussetts legislators to change their procedure for appointing Senators, so that Teddy Kennedy can step down and immediately be replaced by a Democrat who will vote for the second bill.  Sounds entirely plausible.

One of Kevin Drum's commenters, however, thinks this might be problematic:

... the 60 vote bill (the one with the potentially popular elements) has to go first, and only if 1) it contains what is likely to be the unpopular position, mandating participation, and 2) he is sure they can get 50 votes for a bill with a public plan, and that the public plan can be passed through reconcilation. If these provisions are not both not in it, then the whole thing falls apart. Mandatory insurance without a public plan = we all take it up the wazoo from the insurance companies forever. Guaranteed issue and community rating without mandatory participation = rates go to the sky, and the insurance companies have a credible argument that they are justified in doing so, since you could get insurance the day after you cancer diagnoisis and bankrupt them

I myself will be interested to see them actually get Medicare cuts through budget reconciliation, or any other process.  Remember Cat Care . . .