Health Care Reform 2010

So today is the day when we find out if the Democrats can manage to pass their Health Care Reform agenda. As I write this the vote is scheduled but has not yet been taken and so here are a few of my final thoughts on this.

First: Health care reform is needed in this country. The current system is growing more dysfunctional each year. If it does not pass now then in 10 years when the problems will be worse and more people are without insurance and businesses are feeling the strain even more we may be facing the sort of change that prompts revolution.  I do not mean armed overthrow of the government but rather a reform that throws out the old system entirely, such as a Single Payer system of the like.

Second: The proposed reform isn’t the best nor is it the worst of the idea floated out there for reforming our health care system. It’s middling. Friday night a conservative friend asked me if I thought this package was a net minus or plus if it passed and he seemed shocked when I described it as a mild plus. This is not the reform I would have done, but it is a start and it can be adjusted and modified as we find a package of reforms that work.

Third: This reform is not socialism or a government takeover of the healthcare industry. I work in the industry and the bosses of my 2 billion dollar company do not see it as socialized medicine or a take over. It is a new swath of regulations on how the Health insurance industry is run, but regulation is not take over and people who are saying so are either engaged in hyperbole or are lying. Health Insurance is becoming much more like utilities than a regular consumer product. This is not necessarily a bad thing and it is not socialism.

Fourth: Republican opposition in my opinion is much more about politics and winning the next slate of elections than it is about principled stands. I wish I could find it again but I had read an interesting article comparing the current reform package to the Republican proposed reforms back in 1994. The current package, without single payer or a public option, looks very much like what the republicans proposed as an alternative to Hillary Care in 1994, yet now not a single Republican can vote for this package. The truth of the matter is that with Obama’s big win in 2008 the Republicans cannot let him have big wins in the manner in which the government is run. They have made a strategic stand to oppose everything, to deny him victories and use that as their best hope to return to power. It is a valid and not stupid plan, but their stand today — in my opinion — is more about the coming elections than about what they really want.

(Though I will grant you that Republican do not want Health Care Reform. They had the chance and it wasn’t even on their list of things that they wanted to do. There is lots of things that they did want, Tax Changes, education changes, national security changes, changes to our retirement system and regulatory changes, some of these they achieved and some they did not, but Health Care reform was not on the list. When tehy say they care and want to reform the system they are not being truthful.)

Fifth: Passing this package is good politics for the Democrats in the fall elections. This may seem kind of out there, especially given some of the polls numbers out there against this issue. Well, some of those polls numbers are cooked. You’ll hear that 70%+ want the bill scrapped, but that adding together those who wanted something much more liberal — like single payer — and those who wanted something much more libertarian — like cross state markets and little regulation.  Those faction may not like the package but they are not voting together this fall. More importantly, people love winners.  In politics there is the ‘bandwagon effect.’ As someone wins they pick up more support, that leads to more winning and more support and a positive feedback loop. If the Democrats pass this package the news narrative will be that they are winners. This will motivated their base and play out positively in the public. Of they lose and do not pass, they are losers and weak and they will bleed support even faster.

(They’ll lose seats no matter what happens. They have a very high number of seats and losses should be expected.)

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12 thoughts on “Health Care Reform 2010

  1. Obama akbar!

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/03/obama-akbar-the-democratic-president-pitches-ohio-on-healthcare.html

    The unintended consequences of this reckless legislation will spell ruin for the Democratic Party and probable fiscal catastrophe for the nation.

    This is exactly the wrong time and the wrong means to push Health Care Reform. HCR is something a prosperous nation on a sound fiscal footing should tackle; not a nation in a recession, on the edge of entitlement meltdown, while conducting a war. The Democratic Party is wildly out of touch with current public opinion and the immediate needs of the nation.

    Well, November is coming. And no Obama executive order can stop it.

    1. The unintended consequences of this reckless legislation will spell ruin for the Democratic Party I don’t know what time frame you are speaking about when you say ruin. If you mean the short the this year’s election I do disagree because as I said winning creates its own narrative. (Plus Republican’s are going to have a hard time campaigning for seniors’ votes by promising to put the ‘donut hole’ back into Part D.)
      and probable fiscal catastrophe for the nation. sadly I think this is probable no matter what. As I have said many times its been demonstrated that neither part can govern fiscally.

      1. HCR is the kind of “win” like the so-called “Crime Bill” of 1994 was a win. Speaker of the House Tom Foley and the rest of the Democratic Party discovered just how much a win the Crime Bill turned out to be in the election of November 1994.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Foley

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_revolution

        It that’s what happened in 1994 when the economy was humming and unemployment was low, imagine what will happen in November 2010 with a 10% unemployment rate.

        “As I have said many times its been demonstrated that neither part can govern fiscally.”

        So the sensible thing is to poor gasoline (HCR) on the fiscal wildfire?

        1. I do not think the media surrounding the Crime Bill of 1994 is going to be even remotely comparable to the media that will be generated from the win. But we have our opinions and that call is entirely subjective.
          I have said that the Democrats will lose seats, are you suggesting that now it is almost assured that they will lose the House Majority?

          Reform of health care was and continues to be needed. better it be done now this way than later under greater pressure that could have brought about something like singlepayer.

        1. I never like take a single poll or even a single pollster as the definitive mood of the public. current aggregate polling has Obama’s Job Approval at 48.8 disapprove vs 47.3 approve. Very different from this polls 54 vs 44

          The democrats are going to lose seats this fall. A bad recession high unemployment those hurt the party in power. There’s more going on than HCR

      1. I will say that there are many ways to jigger the number so I will accept these with a grain of salt. That said it is still way better than Bush 43s Part D with had no revenue streams at all to pay for it.
        The next year will be the time when we see if Obama and the Democrats are really serious about the fiscal issues.

    1. Thank you for you comment. I do not find it persuasive, but we are all entitled to our opinions.

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