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What's In A Name?

For the last two weeks, draft versions of health refrom from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee have been finding their way into the press. It's hard to be sure about who's been leaking them--or why. But they do reveal one amusing, if not entirely consequential, evolution in the committee's thinking.

Last week, when Robert Pear of the New York Times obtained what was then a current draft, he noted that the bill's title was the "American Health Choices Act." But when HELP finally released a version of the bill a few days ago, the title had changed to the "Affordable Health Choices Act."

Why the difference? Here's a guess. It turns out somebody else had already used "American Health Choices" as the name of a reform proposal. It was Hillary Clinton, during the 2008 presidential campaign.

It's not clear whether Kennedy and his staff simply wanted to seem original or if they were looking to avoid association with Clinton for some reason, perhaps fearing comparisons to 1994. If it's the latter, though, that's a shame. As I've written before, Clinton's '08 health plan was the best of the bunch. And her 1994 plan, despite what you may have heard, was even better.

--Jonathan Cohn