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Real Health Reform or Nothing!

If we can’t have real health care reform in this country, I would rather that we stick with the current system. I know that sounds crazy. And it isn’t that I like the current system — I hate it — but I don’t want to see some half-assed reform that would (at best) be only marginally better than what we currently have and would delay real reform. There are powerful forces opposing health care reform in this country, and I’m sure that if they are unable to kill health care reform, they will do their best to make the new system worse than what we have now. After all, if the Democrats manage to pass health care reform that people like (at least as much as they like Medicare), then the Republican party will be in even worse trouble than they are now.

Consider the “reform” that added prescription drug benefits to Medicare. It was primarily a huge giveaway to the drug companies — who are now using that money to lobby Congress to oppose health care reform. And the drug benefit is so unbelievably complicated that hardly anyone really understands it. What are the chances that we will be able to fix prescription drug benefits in the future? Don’t hold your breath.

What is clear to me is that our current system is horribly broken. So even if we don’t get reform now, we will get it eventually. And I’d rather have real reform.

So this is what I think should happen.  If we don’t get a bill through Congress with a real public option and which does not control costs properly, I think we should kill the bill. At that point, we can ask the Republicans — who all claim to be in favor of health care reform (just not the reform that Obama wants) — to come up with their reform bill. Of course, most likely they won’t be able to come up with anything, but even if they do, I’m sure that a cost analysis will show (just like their Medicare Drug Benefit) that it will cost lots of money for little or no benefit. At which point, we can show that for the same (or less) money, we can have a system like they have in every other freaking industrialized nation in the world that will work much better.

How about it?  Are you willing to say no to compromise? After all, lack of health coverage is killing tens of thousands of Americans every year. How can we compromise on any solution that doesn’t solve that problem? And yet, most of the bills currently working their way though Congress — even some that claim to provide a “public option” — do not solve this problem.



  1. Daniel Habtemariam wrote:

    I was originally going to write an angry reply. But you got me thinking, and you have a point.
    In addition to the Bush’s prescription drug benefit, you should also consider Massachusetts, where we passed something that was supposed to amount to health care reform in 2006. We essentially have a mandate on insurance coverage with no public option (this is how we got Republicans to vote for it – sound familiar?). As a result, the number of uninsured has gotten closer and closer to zero every year since then. At the same time, nothing has been done about costs. And so, we have this strange situation where nearly everyone is insured, but we’re all more miserable than before. The financial toll this has taken on families has been tragic; the toll it’s taken on the state budget has been downright calamitous. And it ended up that way all in the name of bipartisanship. It’s really ludicrous, when you think about.

    The good news, by the way, is that Congressional Republicans have been under increased scrutiny to come up with something.
    I can’t wait to see how many people it covers, how much it costs, and what effect (if any) it has on driving down long-term healthcare inflation. It’ll be all over the news when (if?) it comes out.

    And I think there’s reason to be hopeful about the recent tri-committee House bill that was scored by the Congressional Budget Office. If you ignore the news headlines and read the CBO report, it sounds like really their only failing is at sufficiently empowering the new independent health agency to set reimbursement rates and more rigorously use research to get a handle on costs.

    Expanding coverage is the easy part, in my opinion. It’s solving the cost issue that we’re really butting heads on.

    Friday, July 24, 2009 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Thanks Daniel, for not just having a knee-jerk reaction. I know this idea sounds crazy. In fact, it is definitely not in my own self interest to kill health care reform.

    I have to admit that I don’t know the details of the Massachusetts, but mandating coverage — requiring people to buy something — while not controlling costs just sounds like a huge giveaway to the health insurance companies. And if that’s the best we can do in “health care reform” then people are right to be suspicious of it, and oppose it at the national level.

    We can do better. I’m still convinced that if the bill is bad, we should kill it.

    Friday, July 24, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

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