So is Health Care Reform Dead or Just in a Democratically Induced Coma?

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Despite Scott Brown’s victory, there’s still a lot of debate over the fate of health care reform around Washington and in living rooms across America. (There’s even some debate here at Swampland.) Every day we try to read the signs and report back how things are looking. Should supporters feel hopeful? Are Democrats just plotting their next move, trying to keep their delicate efforts out of the headlines? Was health care reform Obama’s Waterloo? Is reconciliation a real possibility or can the Republicans block it? Will Democrats pretend health care reform is still a priority – to placate the left – even as Obama says other agenda items – like jobs – are most important now?

If and when I come across definitive answers to these questions, I promise to let you all know. But in the meantime, I’m going to start a semi-regular link-heavy feature on Swampland to keep tabs on which way the health care reform winds are blowing. Here’s my first report:

* In an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell today, Vice President Biden referred to health care reform in the past tense, something Obama has already done. Biden said it had “gone down,” before quickly adding “temporarily.” Clip here – scroll to 5:20.

* The Virginia state Senate passed a provision Monday making it illegal to require individuals to buy health insurance. (The requirement is the “individual mandate” that’s a central tenet to Democratic federal health reform legislation.) Democrats have a majority in Virginia’s state Senate and the provision passed with five Democratic votes. The Washington Post said the move “could indicate that the president is failing to reassure members of his own party that current reform efforts remain worthwhile.”

* During a speech and town hall in Nashua, NH today, President Obama was bullish on health care. He got several standing ovations for mentioning it in his speech and the first (random) question he took was from a cancer survivor asking about insurance regulation. Among Obama’s comments, “We’re in the red zone – we’ve got to punch it through…It’s not over, we just have to move methodically…What I won’t do is stop working on these issues.” Chances are we’ll hear optimistic tough talk like this from the Administration for as long as health care reform is still on the minds of the American people. That doesn’t mean anything’s happening in Congress though.

* And although it doesn’t give us much insight on reform’s future, don’t miss this smart, well-reported story from David Herszenhorn examining what would happen if – gasp! – Republicans and Democrats worked together to rewrite the health care bills.

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