Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's official: the health care bill passes!

The passage of the health care bill is certainly an historic moment and a victory for Obama and the Democrats: House passes healthcare overhaul by Noam Levey, Janet Hook, Mark Silva and Michael Muskal Los Angeles Times 02/21/10.

I have very much supported comprehensive health care reform. But I have mixed feelings about the result.

The bill has some features that will be real benefits, like expanded community health centers. And if the regulations on insurers are serious enforced and if the insurance companies show a minimum of good judgment, this could go a long way toward controlling costs and increasing access in a major way. But for a private-insurance-based system like this to work reliably in the United States, it needs to have a public insurance option available. Given the concessions Obama made in backroom deals to the insurance industry (the individual mandate) and the hospital lobby (no public option), I don't have high confidence that this administration will enforce the regulations in the bill adequately. And the Republicans when they win the White House find various ways to just not enforce laws and regulations they don't like.

With a public option, individual mandates to buy insurance makes great sense. This bill's individual mandates without a public option is bad policy. And it could turn out to be bad politics for the Democrats, too. I don't want to be gloom-and-doom about that aspect. But hardline public option advocate Jane Hamsher asks, Will Mandate Mania Be the Gay Marriage of 2010? Firedoglake 03/21/10.

We still need the public option.

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