Joe Klein tries to gauge health care's chances:
At the end of his presidency, Clinton told me that the biggest mistake he made in trying to reform health care was pulling a pen out of his pocket during the 1994 State of the Union address and threatening to veto any health-care legislation that didn't achieve universal coverage. He had come to believe that the only way to get something big like health-care reform was to do it incrementally. Obama has been wise not to make any take-it-or-leave-it offers. He is still fighting for a comprehensive bill and he still may get one. But he may have to settle for less.
"Something called health-reform legislation will pass," a prominent Democrat told me. "The political consequences of not passing anything would be too great." A bare-bones bill that reforms the health-insurance industry insurers would have to accept all comers, including those with pre-existing conditions, at the same rates is a distinct possibility. Expanded coverage, perhaps including the parents of children eligible for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), is also probable. Most important for long-term reform, a system of health-care superstores the wonks call them "exchanges" or "co-ops" where individuals and small businesses can go to buy a plan, could be included.
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