Congress knows the difference between Medicare and Medicaid, right?

I’m reading John McDonough’s Inside National Health Reform. In it, he quotes Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) during an April 2008 meeting in Minnesota.

I feel like a cicada–I come out every fifteen years and hope it feels good. A lot has happened over the past fifteen years. Congress has dumbed down–so much so that I have to explain to members the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. I want change to happen. Quick or not, I want it to be inevitable. The last time we got a whole lot of nothing. The Wyden-Bennet bill has the best chance right now. It’s controversial stuff, but if there is a bipartisan center, it’s this bill.

My thoughts:

  • The reference to fifteen years ago is to the failed Clinton plan. The cicada analogy is close, but cicadas pupate and emerge at 13 or 17 year intervals (both prime numbers, which is important and which 15 is not). Aside: Jon Chait excels at cicada metaphors.
  • The Wyden-Bennet bill did not succeed, as we now know.
  • If Rep. Cooper is right about members not knowing the difference between Medicare and Medicaid we’re in big trouble.

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