Health care reform isn’t dead with the election of Scott Brown and the loss of a Democratic seat in Congress.
In fact, local analysts say that Brown’s election won’t derail reform at all.
“There are at least two scenarios,” said De De dePercin, executive director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “I think rumors of reform’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.”
Many pundits view Brown’s election – to a seat long held by Democrat Ted Kennedy, who died in 2009 – as a referendum on broader issues in President Barack Obama’s administration. But dePercin said that Massachusetts is merely one set of circumstances in a specific time frame.
“So reform is not only going to continue – it has to continue,” she said. “The system is failing; it’s crumbling so fast there is no status quo even. We have to do something.”
One option, dePercin said, is that the House of Representatives could vote on the Senate version of the bill. They would not be allowed to amend it, but could vote in favor of it and send it to the President to be signed.
“We favor the House bill as being stronger for consumers,” she said. “But the Senate bill takes us a long way down the road to reform.”
Obama’s advisers take dePercin’s stance – there is no walking away from reform. David Axelrod said administration officials will take into account the message voters delivered Tuesday in electing Brown, and handing the GOP power to block the Democratic agenda.
“It’s not an option simply to walk away from a problem that’s only going to get worse,” he said.
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky declared the Democrats’ ambitious remake of the health care system dead.
Democrats remain determined to press ahead, saying they are coming up with a new strategy. And dePercin said a pared down bill is still an option, as well.
“They could do reconciliation,” she said. “But the important thing is that reform needs to happen – time and time again, voters say they need reform.”
dePercin said that since Massachusetts already has near-universal health care under state law – a bill signed into action by a Republican governor – that the vote isn’t about health care reform.
Erica Werner of the Associated Press contributed to this story.