As you are probably aware, Harry Reid released the Senate's version of the merged health care bill yesterday. I don't think I can add much to what has been said elsewhere, so I'll spare you the painful rehashing of the details. You're welcome.
As usual, Igor Volsky at the Wonk Room has the essential details.
There's a lot of comments that could be made about this bill. It's nice to see that it's fiscally responsible. It's not only deficit-neutral, but it actually pays down the deficit by $127 billion. Not too shabby. Of course it does that by deferring the best benefits of the bill to 2014. That's not too great, especially because there is going to be an election between here and then. If the health reform has been on the books for five years and has not done much to improve access to health care (which it will not have until the exchanges open in 2014) there's a very strong chance that the voters will punish the Democrats for broken promises. I understand that this compromise was necessary to make the bill affordable and get it passed, but it may have been a very bad decision strategically for the Democrats.
The thing that I think is striking was that in the face of an explicit filibuster threat from Lieberman, and open waffling from the ConservaDems, Reid kept the opt-out Public Option in the bill. I was quite expecting it to be thrown on the sacrificial altar, and it's so watered down and minimized that I was more or less resigned to it. Moreover, Reid had a private chat with Nelson, Lincoln, and Landrieu in which he discussed, among other things, moving the bill to the floor using the non-filibusterable reconciliation process. It wasn't couched as a threat, but the message was clear: block this and we will bypass you and make you irrelevant. Does he have a secret plan to get health care through reconciliation intact? I haven't got a lot of faith in Reid, and I won't be surprised if he buckles, but I like his positioning at this point.