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The Short Life of a Health Care Reform Provision

 This is one of our editors' picks from our ongoing roundup of Investigations Elsewhere.

Trying to keep up with the complex and changing health care reform negotiations in the Senate can feel like trying to chase a runaway truck on foot. This is made abundantly clear today by The Washington Post, which chronicles the very short life and death of the Medicare buy-in plan, done in by a "ferocious" lobbying campaign by hospital and physician lobbyists.

The plan, which would have allowed people ages 55 to 64 to buy health insurance through Medicare, was proposed early last week by a group of 10 liberal and moderate senators as an alternative to the much-debated public option. The details of the group’s plan were kept under wraps until congressional budget analysts could look at it. But hospitals’ and doctors’ groups opposed to the proposal immediately kicked their lobbying efforts into high gear, focusing on moderate and liberal senators deemed "most susceptible to their message."

"The senators came through," said Karl Ulrich, a founding member of a lobbying coalition of hospitals. On Friday, a dozen Senate Democrats sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, "warning that the proposal would make it harder for elderly patients in parts of the country to find care," according to the Post. The plan was abandoned four days later.

But Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., one of the 10 negotiators, said that the plan would have addressed concerns raised by its opponents. Those details never became public, though. According to the Post, the plan’s demise is evidence of how little time senators have "to refine proposals that do not immediately attract the 60 votes needed for health-care legislation to pass."

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