Dr Gail Wilensky: Senate Health Bill Will Be to the Left of the House

While there is a lot of uncertainty about what the final Senate healthcare reform bill will look like, Gail Wilensky, PhD, of Project HOPE, expects the bill will ultimately be to the left of the House bill in order to get the moderates on board.

While there is a lot of uncertainty about what the final Senate healthcare reform bill will look like, Gail Wilensky, PhD, of Project HOPE, expects the bill will ultimately be to the left of the House bill in order to get the moderates on board.

Transcript

What is your best prediction for what sort of healthcare legislation the Senate might end up passing (regardless of whether or not it can pass the House)?

My expectation is that they will be a little gentler on the changes to Medicaid than the House were. Not so much about moving to a per capita block grant; I think that can be justified if you had the proper baseline, and you had the proper growth rates, but you can’t take $880 billion out of the program and not do serious damage.

My assumption has been that the Senate legislation is to the left of the House because of the need to make sure the moderates stayed on board, but the conservatives are also pushing to not, in fact, undo the substantial reductions from Medicaid, and their participation is very important as well. So I’m not quite sure where the Senate is going to end up. When you have a 52 to 48 vote—and at the moment it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any bipartisan support on this package at least—it means you can only afford to lose 2 members and after that you’re in serious trouble.