E.J. Dionne reports on the healthcare reform negotiations:
In the meantime, negotiators are looking to extend to all states a version of the special deal that saved Sen. Ben Nelson's home state of Nebraska from the bill's increased Medicaid costs. Nelson himself is pushing for this change, which would cost $25 billion to $30 billion over 10 years. One solution: somewhat more modest across-the-board Medicaid relief to all states.
Dionne also says the anti-trust exemption is on the table, as is the notion of a national exchange (as opposed the the state-based exchanges in the Senate bill). The upshot is that with the loss of the public option, there are other progressive items that are back in play.
For example, both the insurance companies and many progressive groups want to hold providers to the public promises they made at the White House last year to cut the increase in annual health-care costs by 1.5 percent a year over the next decade. This would amount to $2 trillion in savings.
This would be excellent in terms of bending the cost curve, and perhaps allow the excise tax to be scaled back as a cost-cutting measure (my analysis and not Dionne's).