Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health Care's Heart Failure

As Congress stumbles toward a final deal, the process is a reminder of the disheartening political climate in which we live today.

No one will really be happy with the final result. How could they be? In a world where human considerations are swamped by partisan posturing, the bottom line, if anyone can figure out what it is, will not be how much better or worse it makes our society but who wins and who loses. At heart, it will be a collection of poor compromises.

Here, for example, is Harry Reid, the worst Senate Majority Leader in memory, after reading the opinion polls, trying to hold on to his sliding-away seat with a last-minute conversion to a half-baked semblance of the public option to erase his months of indifference until now.

On the left, whatever remains of the public option will not satisfy those who, with good reason, resent the grip that insurance companies have on their health and well-being, yet Paul Krugman manages to be relatively exuberant:

"(I)f the Massachusetts experience is any guide, health care reform will have broad public support once it’s in place and the scare stories are proved false. The new health care system will be criticized; people will demand changes and improvements; but only a small minority will want reform reversed."

On the right, Olympia Snowe, the Republican heroine of the Finance Committee is sliding away from bipartisanship because the crippling of the public option by an opt-out for states is not as effective as her trigger proposal to delay it altogether.

A month or two or three for now, Congress and the President will be able to claim a historic accomplishment in health care reform, but how much heart will be left in it?


Fuzzy Slippers said...

Lovely rhetorical piece (as always), but (again as always) I don't understand this whole "heart" thing. Don't you understand that we have to pay this for somehow (and not just financially, though that's a big part of it)? "Heart" doesn't pay the bills, I'm afraid, and a little bit of reason wouldn't be amiss.

Holte Ender said...

Who's going to pay for it? The millionaires and billionaires and after they've paid for it, they will still be millionaires and billionaires. I won't mind chipping in a couple of bucks myself, just like millions of other folks.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Holte, are you really that . . .um, do you hear yourself?

This may have escaped your keen notice, but millionaires and billionaires don't pay for any entitlement program that we have. In fact, they are very adept at finding tax shelters and loopholes. Or, like the revolving door of BO's nominations shows (and Rangel), they don't bother to pay taxes at all.

jf said...

The "heart thing" is where people get decent health care even if they work a job with no benefits, or they don't have a job, or they bust loose from a lousy job and start their own business, or they have a pre-existing condition.

The irony is the "heart thing" can be cheaper than the "money thing" we have now.

The problem with the "heart thing," is that it doesn't do as good a job of sorting out the winners from the losers, and, for the winners, it risks the horrifying notion that they're not entitled.