This morning, Howard Dean walked back from earlier statements encouraging Democrats to “kill” the Senate health care bill. On Thursday, Dean wrote that “this bill would do more harm than good to the future of America,” but during his appearance on Meet The Press, Dean argued that yesterday’s manager’s amendment significantly improved the legislation. “I would let this thing go to conference committee and let’s see if we can fix it some more,” Dean said:
Well, let’s start with the positive things. Over the last week, there were things that were improved. There were some cost containment mechanisms that were gutted. They got restored. I would certainly not vote for this bill if this were the final product, but there are, the House bill is quite a good bill. This bill has improved over the last couple of weeks, I would let this thing go to conference committee and let’s see if we can fix it some more…so there are a lot of things that need to be fixed, but if they are fixed you may actually get the foundation of a bill, coming out of the House. If most of the House provisions survive, then we can have a bill that we could work with….I hope this isn’t the compromise that’s been achieved. I think we have yet to see the compromise that we could achieve.
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Dean didn’t advocate for pushing the bill through the reconciliation process or restarting reform after the midterm elections, as he had suggested several days earlier. Instead, the former Vermont governor expressed optimism that the bill could be improved in conference, going so far as to say that some of the goals of the public option could be accomplished through regulatory means.
“Here is the major problem,” Dean said. “We have committed to go down a path in this country where private insurance will be the way that we achieve universal health care. That means we’re going to have a 30-year battle with the insurance industry every time we try to control costs and try to get them to do things.” “My position is let’s see what they add to this bill and make it work, if they can make it work without a public option, I’m all ears. I don’t think that’s possible,” he said.
DailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas, who strongly opposed the Senate bill, also appeared to soften his position. “This, this is not a done deal, we still have reconciliation to go to,” he said during a round table following Dean’s appearance.
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.