Starting Over On Health Care

Rep. Allen Boyd (D), a Blue Dog from the Florida panhandle, has made some headlines today by suggesting Democrats may end up scrapping health care reform as we know it and starting over, pursuing various reform goals piecemeal. "I think that is an excellent idea...we may end up there," Boyd told a town-hall attendant who asked about the possibility, according to CNN. It was the banner headline on the Drudge Report this morning.

Here at Atlantic Politics, we've previously wondered what would have happened if President Obama had split health care into pieces. But is it feasible to start over now, after we're this far into the White House's comprehensive push?

Boyd seems to think this may happen out of necessity, even if it is a good idea: the White House won't get the votes it needs to pass something comprehensive, and health care reform will die, or stall,'s optimistic, then, to predict that health care would rise from the ashes at that point.

"We may end up there" was how he put it.

Scrapping reform and starting over has yet to emerge as a consensus strategy of any faction in Congress or outside it. If Blue Dogs want to do that, they aren't playing for it as a unified team; after all, Blue Dogs on the Energy and Commerce Committee reached an agreement before August recess that allowed Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) to pass the committee's portion of the House bill.

There's no significant drum beat for starting over and going piecemeal. And that's why Boyd's comment made a splash.

There are lots of variables as to whether it could happen. Whether health reform is scrapped and started anew will depend on how the White House likes its options...if the administration can't get a bill that has a public option, and if it's open to a bill that doesn't include one, they'll probably move forward with what they've got. Or the whole thing could fall apart, or a non-public-option bill could be so unpalatable that Democrats would rather scrap it and start over. We just don't know yet.