The Waiting Room
Here’s a quick wrap-up of today’s health care news.
Notwithstanding Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) infamous outburst, President Obama’s big speech Wednesday before both houses of Congress appears to have been a success — at least for now. According to several recent polls, support for health care reform is enjoying a bit of a bounce, ranging from a one-point increase in the number of people who approve of Obama’s handling of health care in a Washington Post/ABC poll to a whopping 12-point bump in the newest CBS/New York Times survey. Perhaps most surprising, Rasmussen Reports — a public opinion firm favored by the Republican Party — found a healthy seven-point rise in support for health care reform following Obama’s address.
Over the weekend, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) — Sen. Ted Kennedy’s replacement as the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — boldly predicted that Congress would pass a health care bill by Christmas, and it would contain a public option — a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers. “Mark my word — I’m the chairman — it’s going to have a strong public option,” he said. But Susan Collins (R-Maine), a key swing senator who some expected to follow the lead of her colleague Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), backed further away from the public option yesterday when she rejected a trigger that would allow a delayed implementation of the public option if insurance companies don’t meet cost and coverage mandates. Meanwhile, Snowe reiterated her opposition to an immediate public option, although she remains open to a co-op solution.
For their part, according to a new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a sizable majority of the nation’s doctors favor the inclusion of a public option in a health care reform package.
This post has been updated for clarity.