As expected, Dems are pushing hard for something to show the voters. Too bad they didn't just drop the Medicare age, but oh well:
Democrats are pushing Senate leaders and the White House to speed up key benefits in the health reform bill to 2010, eager to give the party something to show taxpayers for their $900 billion investment in an election year.
The most significant changes to the health care system wouldn’t kick in until 2013 — two election cycles away. With Republicans expected to make next year a referendum on health care reform, Democrats are quietly lobbying to push up the effective dates on popular programs, so they'll have something to run on in the congressional midterm elections.
Democrats are anxious to mix the good with the bad since some of the pain would be phased in early, including more than $100 billion in industry fees that critics say could be passed on to consumers.
“We want to be able, within the cost framework and the implementation framework, to have as much start as early as possible, even though we know all of it can’t,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), a Finance Committee member who is working with other senators on the effort. “And the White House wants to have as much as possible to start.”
Under the Democratic wish list, senior citizens would receive discounts on brand-name drugs next year. Small businesses that provide insurance would see tax credits. And a $5 billion high-risk pool would cover people with preexisting conditions.
Democratic strategists expect the 2010 election to present a stark contrast between the parties, particularly if the health care bill receives minimal Republicans support. The front-load strategy could help blunt GOP attacks on the bill as a toxic mix of higher taxes, rising premiums and cuts to Medicare.