Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009.


Pass the Bill

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Congress, Health Care

The Senate bill is flawed, no question. Ezra Klein goes over some of the strengths and weaknesses. Ezra documents that with all its flaws, the bill would still be a huge, positive benefit for millions of Americans, putting them at far less risk of health or financial disaster.

The bill as written should reduce the federal deficit and help rein in spiraling health care costs. “And the bill does all this while covering more than 30 million people, ending the ability of insurers to discriminate based on preexisting conditions, creating a new and more competitive insurance market, taking the first steps away from fee-for-service medicine, and much more,” Ezra writes. He concludes,

In the world where we pass the bill, most everything gets somewhat better, if not good enough. More people have insurance. The insurance industry ditches its worst practices. Fewer families go medically bankrupt. More people catch diseases early, when they can be cured, rather than late, when they become fatal. People who would otherwise have died live. The medical system begins the process of updating itself for the 21st Century, and responding to the cost pressures it’s placing on the rest of the country.

The world in which we kill the bill is a world in which everything just continues to get worse, and politicians are scared away from the issue for decades. A world in which we pass the bill is a world in which things get better, and politicians remember that they can pass big pieces of legislation that take on, or begin taking on, big problems.

If we had a reasonable expectation that Congress would start over and come up with a better bill next year, it would make sense to kill this one. But you know they won’t do that. You know it would be many years before they take up health care reform again. It’s been, what, 15 years since the last attempt?

Think of this bill as a foot in the door. Once provisions begin to go into effect, once people realize their lives are less in jeopardy, there are no death panels, and Soviet tanks don’t appear in the streets, most Americans will support it, and more reforms will be possible. Yes, I agree with Digby that a large portion of Americans are so lost in their mythic fantasy land they wouldn’t recognize reality if it showed up with fireworks and a brass band. But I think that while most Americans can be confused and bamboozled about new or foreign things, once they have direct experience with something they are not so easily fooled. They saw through George Bush’s Social Security privatization scheme, for example.

So, yes, pass the bill.

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