Back Commenting on Black
Like Digby, I can't predict the future but remain (very) cautiously optimistic about the end result of HCR. I was worried for awhile there, when I realized that it seemed that one thing many of our very important senators had forgotten to consider was that people actually have to kind of like this plan, and forcing people to buy shitty insurance would probably not make voters happy. I get the sense (not that I really know) that it's become a bit more of the conversation, and hopefully that'll lead a few more people to understand that pleasing Olympia Snowe and AHIP can't be the only considerations.
I think you are unfair to Snowe and AHIP. I think very important senators Baucus and Conrad have even worse ideas about policy than Snowe or AHIP.
Recall that Snowe's watchword is "affordability" which sure makes it sound like she shares exactly your concern. Also note that she supported the Wyden amendment.
Or what about AHIP (which is not identical to the insurance companies which it claims to represent -- principal agent problem anyone). AHIP/PWCs commically dishonest assault on the Finance Committee bill was an assault specifically against the Finance Committee bill and, in particular, the fact that the individual mandate was not universal.
I think it is possible that AHIP really does consider non-universality the one deal breaker. Certainly they have been saying exactly that for over a year. A possible story is that Baucus balked on universality and AHIP told PWC sicc him. Attack dog PWC then mixed metaphors and went whole hog shooting themselves in the foot (hey they're accountants. What do they know from metaphors).
Frankly, I'd say that one reason why the very important Senators are now focused on writing a decent bill is that Baucus is no longer the most important Senator. Another reason is that they have discovered that they can't satisfy both AHIP and Snowe and trying to satisfy both they will satisfy neither.