Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recognizing Reform | The New Republic

As the Senate gets ready to vote on a health care reform bill, it has become clear that after a century of trying, we will be moving toward reform of the system. But make no mistake, this is only the beginning-- an important first step -- but only the beginning. We will have to modify it over time, so that it works to provide care to most if not all Americans. There is a lot of uncertainty and fear among the populace, which is why the popularity of reform has plummeted. There is fear among Seniors that they might lose some benefits, while younger folks don't see why they need coverage. The fact is, however, that unless everyone gets coverage -- of some sort -- in order to spread the risk, the costs of insurance will continue to sky rocket. People with employer provided coverage are concerned that they may get less coverage in the future -- that is if high end plans get taxed. But this might level the playing field for those who can't get group coverage -- usually self-employed and small business folk. I'm in the individual market, so I know how this works. There will, in time, be a needed prohibition against excluding people with pre-existing conditions and a new pool of exchanges. There will also be large government subsidies in order to make this affordable. Oh, and note that the American Medical Association has given its seal of approval -- just so you know if you're concerned that the government will get between you and your doctor, they don't think that's going to happen.

How this will work over time, remains to be seen, but as Jonathan Cohn points out in a New Republic article, this may not look pretty, but it is definitely better than nothing. Like him, I would prefer something approaching a single payer system, but that won't happen in the near future. See his essay for more information and a helpful chart.

Recognizing Reform | The New Republic

I'd like to say something about the political divide on this issue. I'm not sure why there isn't any GOP support. Sen. Olympia Snowe voted out of committee a plan that's pretty similar to the one under consideration. By my estimation, she's probably to the left of Ben Nelson, and on this issue would likely be in a similar place as Joe Lieberman. So why is she, along with Susan Collins, staying firm with the GOP? My best guess is that it's political. I would assume that they have been threatened with having a right wing primary opponent run against them. Sen. Snowe says, we should go slower, but why? She hasn't said why we need to go slower. Going slower only gives time for opponents to nit-pick the legislation to death. The reason why this plan has had such trouble is that seeds of fear have been planted. That fear will have to be overcome -- and it won't be easy. But, its possible!

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