Policy-ish

Obama, Congress Get Down To Business On Health Care

Back to school. Back to work on a health overhaul.

President Obama gives a fiery health-care speech in Cincinnati. i i

A man with a health-care plan seeks action. Mark Lyons/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Mark Lyons/Getty Images
President Obama gives a fiery health-care speech in Cincinnati.

A man with a health-care plan seeks action.

Mark Lyons/Getty Images

Lawmakers return to Washington today, and President Obama, after stumping for health overhaul on Labor Day, is prepping for a stem-winder before a joint session of Congress Wednesday night that could be his last best chance to gain support for his plans.

In case you were too busy grilling over the long weekend, the pick lines from Obama's speech before a union crowd in Cincinnati Monday went like this:

I've got a question for all these folks who say, you know, we're going to pull the plug on Grandma and this is all about illegal immigrants — you've heard all the lies. I've got a question for all those folks: What are you going to do? What's your answer? What's your solution? And you know what? They don't have one. Their answer is to do nothing.

Will fiery rhetoric be enough to get Congress moving Obama's way? Not by itself, but The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn writes the situation isn't as bleak as it could be, considering the "train wreck of a month" the administration had in August.

Four key committees have drafted bills, after all, and they share some important ground, such as an insurance mandate with subsidies for the poor, and restrictions on insurers that would hit hot-button issues like denial of coverage due to preexisting conditions.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the other senators in the so-called "Gang of Six" may finally be moving. Baucus, way late with a proposal, has finally circulated a draft that would raise money for a coverage expansion with fees on insurers and other health businesses, expand Medicaid and offer low-cost catastrophic care for the young.

Hopes are fading for a bipartisan bill, with Republican senators Grassley of Iowa and Enzi of Wyoming dragging their heels. Olympia Snow, a moderate Republican from Maine who's also part of the gang, is now the focus of Democrats' efforts to get at least one GOPer on board.

Baucus appears to be skipping a public option, the controversial government-run insurance plan Obama has pushed for, seeking to go with co-ops as a check on private insurers instead.

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