What Dean Said About the Health Care Deal

After the latest health care deal among Senate Democrats leaked, Howard Dean gave an interview to Plumline’s Greg Sargent. Dean said the compromise–which ditched the public option–nonetheless amounted to “real reform.”  In case you missed it, here’s more of what Dean had to say:  

* In one provision that liberals will dislike, Dean said he’d been told that the Medicare buy-in for people 55-64 would not have subsidies, potentially making the buy in unaffordable for many intended recipients. Dean said that if this isn’t fixed in conference negotiations, it could be a deal-breaker.

“That’s a huge problem that may tip this into being not real reform,” Dean said.

* Dean confirmed what I reported here yesterday: The Medicare buy-in will be available as early as 2010, a provision he hailed for substantive and political reasons. “They’re making government-run single payer available to people under 65,” he said. “That’s a step in the right direction.”

Dean added, however, that it was unclear as of yet whether the early buy-in applied to all those without insurance or just those at high-risk (I was told yesterday that the latter was true). He said that if it’s high-risk only, that could also be a provision that falls short of real reform, and noted that the early buy-in would have to be made available to everybody.

Asked to respond to progressives who decry the compromise for not making government-run insurance available to all age groups who need it, Dean said:

“The question is, Is there enough of a kernel of real reform in the bill to make it possible for progressives to vote for it? Given the details we know today, I think there is. The group at largest risk is being taken care of, those over 55. There really is reform. Is there enough reform? No. But significant reform matters.”

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