The Center for American Progress might have done that rarest of things: produced a partial health care reform plan that appeals to many on both sides of the aisle. Taking both Republican and Democratic ideas together, the DC think tank has proposed a way forward on cost control despite the dysfunction that surrounds the health care debate. WaPo lays out the details:
Individual states would set their own targets to curb the growth of health care spending. If they succeed, they’d pocket a share of federal Medicare and Medicaid savings, ranging from tens of millions to $1 billion or more, depending on the state. […]The proposal is also a sign of Democratic sensitivity to a major piece of unfinished business for Obama’s Affordable Care Act — cost control. “Obamacare” remains politically risky for Democrats in this fall’s political campaigns. […]“It’s got some Republican roots to it, and it’s got some Democratic roots to it,” said Ezekiel Emanuel. “We wanted to create a bipartisan proposal that does take advantage of some Republican ideas and is cognizant of Democratic concerns, and use it to transform the whole delivery system.”
CAP staffers plan to take this around to the White House as well as Congress. It might get at least some hearing at the WH, given that CAP’s former president John Podesta now advises President Obama. But even if it doesn’t make its way in the legislative process just now, this proposal is significant for a few reasons. For one, it signals a willingness of health care scholars on the left to acknowledge that the ACA, whatever else it might have done, basically did not address our cost problem, and that future attempts to tackle costs on the federal level might not be particularly effective or politically feasible. That’s an important step forward—but more important is the proposal of a plan with bipartisan roots to address the cost problem itself. Given how little bipartisanship accompanied the ACA’s passage, this is a welcome change. It could even be the canary in the coal mine for where the health care discussion could, with a little luck, start going.