Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eight Senators To Watch On Healthcare Reform

Tired of trying to figure out what 100 Senators are going to do about the 5,000 pages of proposed health care legislation floating around the conference rooms of the Capitol? The bill will need 60 votes to pass the Senate, but there are eight key Senators to watch. You can call them the Wind Sock group, because their reaction to the way the five different committee proposals are eventually merged into a final bill will tell everyone which way the wind is blowing in Washington.

The key to the votes of this group of 8 is the so called "public option." Three members of the Wind Sock group are in the "must not have" position, three are in the "must have" position, and the other two have already compromised on the possibility of a public option in the future initiated by a "trigger" proving unavailability of affordable health insurance from private insurers in certain regions of the country. A change in the position of any one or more of these Senators could well be predictive of the direction the final legislation is taking as it is sculpted behind the closed doors of Capitol conference rooms and offices.

The "must not have a public option" group: Republican Susan Collins of Maine, Democrat Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. The "must have a public option" group: Democrat Roland Burris of Illinois, Democrat John Rockefeller of West Virginia, and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Finally, the "trigger" advocates are Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine and Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Stay tuned.
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