Tomorrow Massachusetts voters will go to the polls for a special election to fill the seat of the late Ted Kennedy. The incredibly, unexpectedly tight race has implications that reach nationwide.
Whoever wins this seat may cast the deciding vote in the Senate for healthcare — and play a crucial role in other divisive issues down the road. Democratic candidate State Attorney General Martha Coakley will vote in favor of healthcare reform; her Republican rival, State Sen. Scott Brown, has promised to vote against it.
While there are many reasons to be frustrated with healthcare reform, consider these numbers: Without reform, 54 million people or more (depending on who’s guesstimating) won’t have insurance in 2019; under the Senate bill, that number is reduced to 23 million, and under the House bill it’s even lower, at 18 million. And both bills have an employer mandate and subsidies for low-income families.
And there are many smaller points that you may not have noticed in such big bills, such as 100 percent Medicare reimbursement for certified nurse midwives.
Plenty of other issues are at stake. Take a look at what Jennifer Nedeau and Jill Zimon have written about the Senate race. You can also read a deconstruction of the candidates’ positions on abortion at the Boston Globe.
If you haven’t been following this race closely, you may be interested in this summary of the media coverage. Coakley has been criticized a la Hillary Clinton — too stern and serious. Let’s agree, though, that she never would have stood a chance had she posed nude for Cosmo way back when, as did Brown.