Using Reconciliation For Health Care Is Neither New Or Extraordinary

There is a great new article from NPR showing that there is nothing new or extraordinary about using reconciliation to pass health care reform. Reconciliation is a normal, perfectly usable tool to pass health care reform. It has been used repeatedly by both parties. Of course, this is the same message FDL has been repeating for months while Democratic congressional members, administration officials, and administration-friendly reporters have been actively trying to claim that you can't use reconciliation.

Here is a list of health care reforms passed using reconciliation:
A History Of Reconciliation
For 30 years, major changes to health care laws have passed via the budget reconciliation process. Here are a few examples:

1982 — TEFRA: The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act first opened Medicare to HMOs

1986 — COBRA: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act allowed people who were laid off to keep their health coverage, and stopped hospitals from dumping ER patients unable to pay for their care

1987 — OBRA '87: Added nursing home protection rules to Medicare and Medicaid, created no-fault vaccine injury compensation program

1989 — OBRA '89: Overhauled doctor payment system for Medicare, created new federal agency on research and quality of care

1990 — OBRA '90: Added cancer screenings to Medicare, required providers to notify patients about advance directives and living wills, expanded Medicaid to all kids living below poverty level, required drug companies to provide discounts to Medicaid

1993 — OBRA '93: created federal vaccine funding for all children

1996 — Welfare Reform: Separated Medicaid from welfare

1997 — BBA: The Balanced Budget Act created the state-federal childrens' health program called CHIP

2005 — DRA: The Deficit Reduction Act reduced Medicaid spending, allowed parents of disabled children to buy into Medicaid

There are many possible, fairly comprehensive health care reform packages that could be passed using just reconciliation. You could easily do a CHIP-style program for everyone without insurance. I personally have laid out several potential reconciliation-only health care bills (here, here, here, here, and here).
Of course, if the administration and Congressional Democrats had not spent months dismissing reconciliation and clinging to the 60 vote excuse, there would be no need to scramble to make the case now for reconciliation. If Democrats were smart, they could have used this back in July when it first become clear bipartisan reform was impossible, and had a health care reform bill signed into law roughly six months ago. I would hope that the one lesson Democrats learn from this debacle is that, when it comes to health care reform, always plan on only using reconciliation. Spending months on doomed-to-fail attempts to get bipartisan votes will kill reform everytime.

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