Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Health Care - Do What's Best for You

The health care debate goes on and on. Tonight, President Obama spoke to Congress and the nation to describe his proposal. Using a combination of reason and passion, he tried to dismiss the misconceptions and outline what he's really like to see for reform.

Now, overall, I like his proposal for a number of reasons, but the two main reasons are:
  1. It leaves in place the existing coverage that many are satisfied with. No one has to change policies or try to get re-insured. So I can keep my good employer-based insurance, unlike a proposal floated by candidate John McCain.

  2. It adds a government-run program to compete with private policies. Now, this is excactly the kind of experiment I'm most interested in: direct competition between the public and private sectors. My philosophy about government is that it should do what it can do better than the private sector. So, let's see which approach is more cost-effective in providing health insurance.

Here's another interesting perspective (courtesy of Thomas Friedman, New York Times, Sept. 9, 2009): Obama's proposal is largely based on two Republican initiatives, yet it is widely decried by Republicans. The proposal closely resembles the health insurance program put into place here in Massachusetts by Republic Governor Mitt Romney. It adds in an idea for funding taken from John McCain's proposal.

But will the plan pass Congress? And if it does, what will it turn into in the Congress --- will it get overcomplicated, diluted, or heavy with bureaucracy? Even with a Democratic majority in both houses, the necessary compromises may result in a bill that barely resembles Obama's proposal.

And probably for the worst, it will receive no Republican support. This is highly unfortunate. With a greater balance in power in Congress, a more bipartisan bill might have emerged. Maybe on that would be more effective in addressing the full range of needed reform.

But, to me, it is clear that the key to the Republican strategy for gains in the 2010 midterm elections is to ensure the Obama health plan fails, or if it passes, that it is widely disliked by the public. So, I'm not optimistic about the success of true health care reform.

So, we may all still be where we are now: some of us will have decent employer-provided insurance. The elderly and disabled will have Medicare. Many will try to get individual policies. And many will remain uninsured.

If reform fails, health care will amount to doing what's best for yourself (if you can)!

1 comment:

  1. Have you heard of Sen. Kent Conrad's cooperative alternative to the public option? I personally feel that it is preferable to the public option, and is likely to gain bipartisan support.