Washington Matters


'Look at the Cool Knee-Replacement I got for Christmas'



Any doubts left that a critical mass is building for health care reform? Just in time for the holidays, a Pittsburgh-based health insurance company created a gift card that will help friends and relatives pay for prescriptions, medical procedures and doctor's visits they might otherwise not be able to afford.

And if making medically necessary care dependent upon being naught or nice isn't quite enough evidence that the question is no longer, "Do we need health care reform?" but, "How do we reform health care?" then perhaps this is: The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), one of the most influential interest groups in Washington -- one that helped deep-six Hillary Clinton's health plan in the mid '90s, as a matter of fact -- is joining a broad coalition seeking to make health care a top priority of the presidential campaign. Just how broad is this relatively new group, Divided We Fail? The bedfellows don't get much odder than the AARP, NFIB, big business (in the guise of The Business Roundtable) and labor unions. And not just any labor union, but one of the toughest and most feared by businesses of all sizes, the Service Employees International Union, which is making health care a top priority at both the state and federal levels. Besides, how much more bipartisan can you get than a logo that is a kicking donkey with the head of an elephant.

A disparate group putting pressure on politicians and firing up its members is no guarantee of change -- but significant change doesn't happen without it, either. And it doesn't hurt that AARP, SEIU and NFIB are all huge and have members that turn out vote. NFIB alone boasts 600,000 members and claims that nearly 90% of them voted in the last presidential race.




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