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Plans B, C, D, E….

As I have mentioned in the past, health reform requires 60 votes in the Senate, and the progressiveness of the bill is based on that fact. Here are the alternatives, some realistic and some not:

1) Ron Pollack’s idea. Have the House pass the Senate bill as is, but only after the crafting of a separate budget reconciliation bill that deals with the financing and subsidies. The House would then vote on both measures before sending the budget bill to the Senate where it would only requires 51 votes. Both bills could then be signed by the President simultaneously. This could conceivably create a more generous bill in terms of financing and affordability (as the reconciliation bill could disregard centrist Senate Democrats like Lincoln, Landrieu, and Nelson), but would also preserve troublesome Senate provisions like state-based Exchanges, the abortion language, and other non-budgetary aspects that were better on the House side. Here is how reconciliation would work according to Jeff Davis.

2) Push the conference package through Congress before Brown is sworn in, probably on January 29th. This is somewhat unrealistic given the potential backlash, though today’s official scheduling of the State of the Union Address for January 27th gives it some merit.

3) Get back Olympia Snowe. This will push the bill back towards the Finance Committee’s version, though it is doubtful she will come on board.

4) Pass the Senate bill. The House can pass the Senate version verbatim and send it straight to the President, though numerous House members have reservations about this. Encouragingly, Speaker Pelosi and House Majority Leader Hoyer have indicated this would be a viable last resort as something is better than nothing.