Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Senate Passes Healthcare Reform

On Christmas morning, there is a strong possibility that we will awaken to healthcare reform. On Hardball the other day, Chris Mathews rightly noted that watching the healthcare debate is a much truer reflection of the backroom dealing and vote rounding than any political party’s convention. The “Louisiana Purchase,” reminds of Otto Von Bismarck’s adage that people who love sausage, and people who love laws shouldn’t watch either being made.

All of that aside, it remains to be seen how much good this bill will actually do. The bill will mandate that people pay for products from private insurance companies who will still be bent on raking as much in profits as possible, and paying as little out in benefits as is possible. Sure, there are more regulations, but these companies will find a way around in many instances. Even worse, there is no public option in the senate bill to keep private insurers honest. I have a feeling that the cost of subsidies to the federal government will continue to rise as private insurers raise prices. As costs go up, some Americans will find themselves unable to afford premiums even with the government subsidy, and will either have to be exempted from the mandate, or punished for not “obeying” it.

Despite these severe misgivings, I think the bill is worth supporting for exactly one reason: For the first time in American history, the principle, if not the actuality, that every American deserves access to healthcare regardless of his ability to pay is enshrined in law. That is worth a lot.

I laid out my ideal bill here, and noted that it would not happen. In the meantime, I'll take what passed today. In years ahead, hopefully the system will be tinkered with and improved.

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