The House will need to make a lot of last-minute sacrifices when combining its health care bill with the Senate’s, but if legislators play their cards right, the final bill could be a stronger beast. The Senate must stand by its strong cost control mechanisms, writes David Leonhardt of the New York Times. The “Cadillac tax,” the independent Medicare commission, and vouchers that give people with employer-purchased health insurance access to the exchanges are all essential.
But asking the House to accept all that and ditch the public option is asking a lot. So, in return, the House can demand that the bill go into effect in 2013 rather than 2014. It can push for a national health insurance exchange, instead of 50 state-run ones. And it can demand lower drug prices, or other industry concessions. That'll annoy the industry-friendly White House, but given the concessions the House is making, it's perfectly reasonable. (Read more health care reform stories.)