When a bipartisan group of six senators sent a letter to Harry Reid yesterday asking him to slow down on health care reform, one name stood out to Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com: Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon. At first glance, the liberal-ish senator doesn't seem to fit with the other five. What gives? Wyden is pushing his own health care plan—Silver is a fan, as are advocates on both the left and right—and this may be a sign that Wyden thinks his bill has a legitimate shot if the more "traditional" versions stall.
Wyden's Healthy Americans Act can't be characterized as liberal or conservative. "It's just different," says Silver, and a "lot of smart, progressive folks" think it's the way to go. It would eliminate the benefits tax exemption, create a national health insurance exchange, and "set some rather explicit cost-containment targets." The White House wants reform. It "ought to at least be actively considering whether Wyden's bill is the way" to get there.