The latest inside scoop on the health care debate

    I am in Washington, D.C., at the National Association of Health Underwriters annual "Capitol Conference." With President Barack Obama making his final (?) push for passage of the Senate reform bill – calling for a House vote March 18th – it is timely to be at “ground zero.”

    Newly elected Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) was one of our first speakers. He was followed by the somewhat infamous (as in "Corn husker Kickback") Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) rounded out the morning session.

    Besides all three speaking at our NAHU event, I was struck by how different they seemed from their media portrayals. Frankly, Sen. Brown wasn’t all that gifted or charismatic as a speaker. (Although the ladies in the room obviously found him to be pretty hot!) No, his message was just straight talk about being sick of politics as usual. It was I think that message that got him elected not some slick style.

    Sen. Nelson displayed a workable understanding of the complexities of health care reform; I particularly liked his comments about preserving the role of the agent/broker in a revitalized system. (Of course, he was preaching to the choir.)

    Rep. Pence was terrific. I think I’d most enjoy having a beer with him.

    It seemed interesting that with Congress’ approval ratings so low, all three came across as honest sincere guys.

    Also, all three shared this assessment of the "reconciliation" process: don’t hold your breath! Here’s what they said. The Senate has passed a bill. The House will be asked to pass the same bill next week. If they do so – and that is a BIG if – HR 3590 (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) becomes law when the president signs it. And he surely will.

    Those who expect HR 3590 to be changed/fixed after passage are drinking the Kool Aid. Once it is law, it’s done.

    Just thought you ought to know what the insiders think.


    Jon Rauser is president of The Rauser Agency Inc., Milwaukee. He writes an ongoing blog about the health care industry at

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