Coming Soon: Health Care Reform That Might Pass
Posted by Alan on July 27, 2009
We’re getting closer to seeing what the health care reform likely to emerge from Congress will actually look like. The Senate Finance Committee is likely to unveil its bi-partisan reform plan in the next few days. While it’s likely to disappoint members of both parties, it also holds out the greatest promise for serving as a framework for meaningful, comprehensive reform.
Some of those who will be disappointed with a more centrist approach to health care reform will be those who have created a cottage industry from highlighting the more egregious elements of the plans already passed by Congressional Committees. These proposals never had much chance of becoming law, but partisans across the spectrum embraced them as either statements of principles (on the left) or evidence of skullduggery (on the right). countless hours of heated argument, outraged accusations, misinformed attacks, and righteous indignation have been heaped on these bills. They also generated, to be fair, serious public policy debates on meaningful issues that shined a light on the complexity and trade-offs inherent in reforming one-sixth of the nation’s economy. They received all this attention in part because they were the only detailed reform plans around.
The Senate Finance Committee is about to change that. And it could be the House Energy and Commerce Committee, whose liberal and moderate Democratic members are seeking to find common ground, may also come forward with a detailed plan soon.
The health care reform proposal likely to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee will disappoint some in the White House. According to the Associated Press, it does not call for creating a government-run health plan as President Barack Obama has proposed to provide competition for private carriers. Instead, such competition would be provided by non-profit health insurance cooperatives. While the federal government would provide seed money for launching these cooperatives, they would have to survive in the market without government subsidy or management. The Senate Finance Committee is also expected to forgo requiring businesses to offer health insurance coverage to their employees, although individuals would be required to obtain such coverage on their own if their employer does not offer it.
There will no doubt be much in the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal to raise the ire of, well, most everyone. If there was a path to health care reform that triggered spontaneous outbursts of Kumbaya in the halls of Congress, it would have been introduced and enacted by now. So we get to look forward to plenty of controversy, sniping, partisan positioning and serious policy debate over the next several weeks.
The good news, however, is that all that energy will be directed to refining a health care reform plan that has the chance of actually being enacted. And that is progress.
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