Over the past few days, before the Daschle story broke, several news outlets began arguing that health reform isn’t happening this year. Key stakeholders sounded less than optimistic and some prominent Democratic lawmakers questioned the imminence of reform.
Today, the Washington Times’ Sean Lengell reports (before the Daschle story broke, it seems) that even Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a big supporter of comprehensive reform, thinks that health care may have to wait:
“Why might reform not happen this year? As is often the case, the new administration and the new Congress face competing priorities,” said Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat and Senate Finance Committee chairman, at a health policy conference in Washington hosted by AcademyHealth and Health Affairs magazine. “These priorities compete for time on the agenda and attention in the press and in public.” “The president’s dance card is indeed full,” he added.
This is the alternative theory of why Daschle dropped out. As one of my colleagues suggested, Daschle may have read the tea leaves on health reform and concluded that the economic crisis has rendered health reform unaffordable. So, he drops out and provides Obama with a rationale for failing to enact health reform during his first term.
What do you think?
Speaking to the cameras after Daschle’s announcement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “we intend to move forward on this issue [of health care reform].”
,It appears the Washington Times writeup mischaracterized Baucus’ views. Baucus was merely citing potential obstacles to reform, but his own view is: “Getting health care reform legislation enacted this year is my top priority.”