I have spent the past several days reading and thinking about health care reform, specifically the bill that will soon pass the Senate. My initial thoughts, as I posted, were that the bill ought to be stripped of the individual mandate or killed. And while I still believe the mandate without a public backstop is bad politics and even worse policy, I have come around on my thinking on the overall package of reform.
Quite simply, moments of major change only happen infrequently. We are in one of those times right now, and if health care reform were to die now we might not have another bite of the apple for several years. Over that time period hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people will die for lack of care. Countless others will be denied medically necessary treatment, thus diminishing their quality of life. Still others will not even be able to purchase insurance due to pre-existing conditions.
To turn our backs on health care reform now would allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. And aside from placing ideals before action, we’d be doing untold harm to many of our fellow citizens. It would be immoral to fail to support health care reform, plain and simple.
But let us be perfectly clear, this is a flawed bill. It fails to adequately address the cost curve. It does not have a public backstop, nor provide adequate competition for what is a largely oligopolistic insurance market. What it does provide, though, outweighs these shortcomings. Millions of people will now have access to health insurance and medical care. And by enacting this reform now, we make it easier to address the bill’s shortcomings in future years.
With that said, I am still only cautiously optimistic. Much work needs to be done to reconcile the bill passed by the House and that soon to be passed in the Senate. There are still points along the way where a renegade member(s) in either chamber could derail this historic opportunity.