03/21/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Coakley or No Coakley, Health "Reform" Won't Die

Call me crazy, but I don't think health care reform is done if (when?) Martha Coakley goes down in defeat (and to think I was boldly predicting only days ago that she would win. I probably jinxed it. Crap.).

I think the Senate's version of reform is still alive and kicking. Even if the House refuses to pass the Senate bill as is. Even if any negotiated changes aren't passed in the Senate through reconciliation. Even if the Senate doesn't "go nuclear" and do away with the filibuster.

And that's because I have a sneaking feeling that 1 or 2 Republicans will peel lose and vote for cloture after all.

Why? That's easy - because after Harry Reid and President Obama allowed real health care reform to be gutted like a fish by Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln, the Insurance Companies decided they liked it.

Once the public option died and the bill became Liebercare, these companies were guaranteed millions of new customers with no oversight, regulation, restriction or cost control. That's why the dreaded AHIP (America's Health Insurance Plans) - the industry's lobbying arm - went dark in November before the vote. That's why insurance company stocks went up after the Senate bill was approved. That's why the inscos stepped right up to fundraise for Martha Coakley when it became clear she was in trouble. That's why we haven't been showered by television ads in the last month-and-a-half telling us all to harass our elected officials to scuttle this "reform."

They like this bill. It's their bill. The ill-regulated individual mandate more than balances out the requirement to accept customers with pre-existing conditions - particularly since they'll continue to define "pre-existing conditions" to their liking, and charge those with them significantly more for premiums.023

And together with so many other corporate interests, these companies own Washington.

Sure I could be wrong about this. And I'll certainly eat crow if I am. I guess time will tell.

And if there are significant changes in the House, obviously all bets are off. But those changes would have to matter to the inscos. The Cadillac tax vs. millionaire tax, for example? Not a problem.

So if it comes down to it, I think this is how it will play out: when it's all looking darkest for the bill, and despair creeps in among the faithful, I predict the insurance lobbyists will be on the phone with a few of their GOP regulars - probably a big campaign cash beneficiary like Chuck Grassley, and tell them to get back in there and take one for the team. Dutifully, those one or two Republican Senators will announce that, while they don't agree with the bill and will vote against it, they've searched deep into their souls and decided they will not vote against cloture because the matter deserves a clean up or down vote. Out of principle, naturally.

See? No problem. Now don't you feel better about it all?

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