Washington Watch

August 2011

Congress has recessed for the August political conventions, having made no progress toward a patients’ rights bill or a Medicare pharmacy plan.
When Congress returns after Labor Day for it’s final month, it will face the daunting job of finishing a tough budget amid a volatile political atmosphere, with the key health care issues at the top of the voter’s list of concerns. Look for all kinds of charges and counter charges from both Democrats and Republicans pointing the finger at each other over who is at fault for Washington’s failure to enact either of the big healthcare bills on the table.

And Congress should know, voters will be watching. A recent study, prepared by The Washington Post, The Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University, reveals some interesting public sentiments on how much healthcare reforms matter, but more interestingly — and perhaps, more obviously — the study shows that voters have different opinions on which issues matter most and how to resolve them.

But whatever happens to the patients’ rights issue or the Medicare prescription drug issue before the 2000 elections, any failure of this Congress to make progress on these issues should not be interpreted to mean that we will see a permanent stalemate extending into 2011.

Because by the time the elections are over, both sides will have promised to deliver. Promises that will have set unavoidable expectations no matter who wins.