Did Scott Brown Just Solve the Health Care Debate?

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Eight months after Democrats narrowly passed health-care reform, the repeal or at least gradual destruction of which was a central Republican plank in the November elections, none other than freshman Republican Senator Scott Brown might have helped craft a compromise that could actually please both health care's proponents and opponents. Brown wrote the plan alongside Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and it has been endorsed by the Washington Post's Ezra Klein, who is one of the two foremost liberal writers on this year's health care battle, along with The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn.

Ezra Klein explains that Brown and Wyden's plan is to allow states to craft their own health care reform plans. If those state plans match the national plan on some important benchmarks -- number of people covered, cost, etc. -- then the state can adopt its own plan and opt out of the national one, but still receive all the federal funds associated with the national plan.

Republicans can love this plan because it allows them an opportunity to break free of health care components they oppose, such as the individual mandate, which fines people who don't buy insurance. Democrats can love it because it still ensures that a certain number of people will receive a certain quality of health care, and also because it states an opportunity to pursue even more robust plans. Vermont could try for a British-style single-payer plan. And there's something elegantly American about a plan built on free competition. Klein writes:

What Wyden and Brown are offering is the chance for the various sides to prove that they’re right. If the industry players make the system work better, then the states that prize their involvement will prosper. If conservative solutions are more efficient, that will be clear when their beneficiaries save money. If liberal ideas really work better, it’s time we found out. Forget repeal and replace, or even reform and replace. How about compete and succeed?

He says the White House is so far "cautiously supportive," but with endorsements like Klein's, perhaps support could build in the Democratic policy wonk circles known to frequent his blog.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.