AND THEN THERE WERE THREE. Adding to the rush of Democratic health care plans this week, Russ Feingold just stepped forward with his proposal -- a sort of strange, possibly cunning attempt to trigger a series of self-contained universal care plans in the states that would, assumedly, create a domino effect for the rest of the country. Unlike Stark's or Clinton's plans, Feingold's proposes no new national programs. Instead, it creates a $32 billion fund which would finance a handful of states running universal care pilot projects for the next ten years.
As of now, the proposal seems rather vague. The standards the states must meet seem...sketchy, to say the least. And it's not clear why Feingold wouldn't want to simply say that all states have to grope their way to universal care, or create a phase two for the plan which extends the funding and mandate to the whole union after the initial participants have demonstrated the viability of a certain array of options. On the other hand, the more states with universal health plans, the more models for others to follow. I'm willing to believe there's a certain savviness to this proposal -- that it seeks national coverage through a piecemeal, but powerful, mechanism. No governor, after all, will want to be the one who didn't bring his state UHC. That said, I'm on the fence. Which is why, over the next few weeks, I'm going to try and speak to Feingold, Stark, and someone from the DLC on the relative merits of all their plans. Stay tuned, same wonk channel, same wonk time.