It is prime time indeed for reform. Sounds as though the President will push for public option in the speech, but clearly will dump it for a deal in the Senate. This makes sense, and apparently Olympia Snowe favors a triggered public option as does Ben Nelson, a skeptical Democrat in the Senate. Maybe it goes like this: Senate passes bill sans public option, House has one and in the conference bill you get triggered public option.
A big question is wheter the Senate Finance Committee will announce a more concrete deal before the President's speech tonight. Not sure. Supposedly gang of 6 to huddle at 2:30pm. Interestingly, the AMA released this letter in support of reform outlining several goals last night. This steps on the notion of doctors being opposed....so will probably affect the Republican response, to be given by a doc, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA).
The most interesting aspect of all of this to me is how quiet (as a church mouse) the Congressional Republicans are about malpractice reform. This issue has been a 30-40 year obsession for them. The AMA includes 'medical liability reforms to reduce the cost of defensive medicine' as one of its principles which you would expect. But, *none* of the elected Congressional Republicans are talking about it at all, and that issue is like mom, apple pie and the flag for them. Any Republican senator willing to support a compromise bill could most likely get quite a lot on this issue.....including any of the 3 members of the gang of 6....there is not one word on malpractice in the finance committee working draft. Sen. Enzi didn't want to chunk something on that issue in there? This says that the Republican governors will talk up the issue, but they can't cut a deal. If Rep. Boustany doesn't talk about malpractice reform tonight in his response and give at least some specifics of what Republicans want on this issue, I will fall out of my chair.
I think this just means the Republicans don't want a deal and really prefer no bill, and that their best hope of defeating the President is to play defense (not sure if he wants to kill your grandmother can keep working, but who knows) and hope the liberals in the House erupt and blow up the tracks without them having to resort to a filibuster in the Senate.