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Here are the FDL Action health care reform highlights for Friday, December 18.

1. Jon Walker is concerned that Ben Nelson could get his way and gut “the single best remaining piece of reform, Medicaid expansion.” Walker concludes that “If using reconciliation is the only way to protect the Medicaid expansion, the decision to use it should be a no-brainer for every real Democrat.”

2. Jon Walker suggests that “if you are are going to tax ‘Cadillac’ plans, you need to index it to make sure it only ever taxes actual ‘Cadillac’ plans.” To accomplish this goal, Walker suggests “index[ing] the cap to roughly 165% of the average premium on the Federal employer health benefit (FEHB) exchange.”

3. Jane Hamsher points to a new poll indicating that 38% of Americans favor the individual mandate to buy insurance, while 51% oppose it. Hamsher adds, “When it appears in the ads of a Republican challenger who notes that the IRS will act as Aetna’s collection agency, I bet those numbers get dramatically worse.”

4. Jon Walker calls Ben Nelson’s latest idea – to make states “opt in” to health reform – “literally and completely insane.” C’mon, tell us how you really fell about Ben Nelon’s stupid idea, Jon. 🙂

5. Jon Walker writes that “Ezra Klein has a new, strange, and incorrect defense of the individual mandate in the Senate bill.” Walker argues that “[t]he argument that removing the individual mandate would price unemployed people, like the reader, out of the individual market is not true.”

6. Jane Hamsher discusses “the impoverished left/right dialectic that dominates the media coverage of politics, and its inadequacy when it comes to discussing the dynamics of the health care debate.” It’s a fascinating discussion; here’s a sampling. “With unemployment at 10%, the idea that you can pass a bill whose only merit is that ‘liberals hate it’ just because the media will eat it up and print your talking points in the process is so cynical and short-sighted it’s hard to comprehend anyone would pursue it. It reflects a total insensitivity to the rage that is brewing on the popular front, which is manifest in every single poll out there.”  Good stuff.

7. Jon Walker goes after Ezra Klein again, this time for “[doing] the discussion on health reform a big disservice by making false claims about what could, in fact, start a race to the bottom in the insurance market.”

8. Jon Walker argues that the fact there is a “hardship waiver,” as well as restrictions on undocumented immigrants to buy insurance on the new exchange (“even if they were willing to pay full price with no tax credits”) both “undercut arguments for an individual mandate.”

9. Finally, I’ve got a state blog roundup, including lots of discussion about “Liebercare,” “Loserman,” and Jane Hamsher taking “a corporate conman to the woodshed.”  

This was a fascinating, sometimes infuriating, occasionally highly entertaining week in health care reform. Next week promises to be more of the same.  Stay tuned!