Tuesday, June 09, 2009

OBAMACARE: Will It Be Affordable Universal Health Care or a Government Bailout for the Insurance Companies?

The questions is will Obama's personal involvement lead to more robust health care reform which will make significant progress towards affordable universal care? Or, in the name of gaining support from the health insurance lobby and the "moderate" Republicans and "centrist" Democrats to whom it has contributed so much money, will Obama allow so many compromises that health care reform turns into a government bailout for the insurance industry?
If, as Rahm Emanuel says, "everything is negotiable", and if, as Obama says, he'd rather get part of what he wants with more than 60 votes--including some Republicans--than all of what he wants with 51 votes--all Democrats--then this is what health care "reform" may well end up looking like--a federal bailout of the private health insurance industry at the expense of the taxpayers.

Supporters of compromise are fond of chastising supporters of more robust health care reform, particularly single payer advocates, by repeating that "we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." The problem is that an overly compromised health reform bill that satisfies the health insurance lobby and its Democratic and Republican supporters in Congress may not be "good" at all, and may even make things worse. Health care costs would not be reduced, putting increasing strains on individual and government budgets. Uninsured individuals would be forced by the government to buy private insurance they can't afford, taking a big hit out of family income and reducing demand in other sectors of the economy. Workers would be forced to pay for it by being taxed on their employer-provided health benefits. And as a result, increasing numbers of employers would drop health benefits for their employees.

In a few years, this could lead to a huge political backlash against Obama and Congressional Democrats who voted for this "reform." Just as the Clinton's flawed health care proposals in 1984, which never came to a Congressional vote, lead to the revival of the Republican party in the 1986 mid-term elections, the enactment of a flawed health care reform plan by Obama, which results in greater financial burdens being placed on American families, could lead to the revival of the Republican Party and its calls to let the "free market" rule.
The question now is, having taken single payer off the table, how far is the Obama administration and its progressive supporters--both in Congress and in the grassroots movement--willing to further compromise in order to say that they passed some kind of health reform bill? Will they continue to say that "everything is negotiable?" Or will they say that unless there is a robust public option, a viable means to finance subsidies to the uninsured to buy insurance, waivers to any individual mandate for those who can't afford insurance, and continued tax-deductibility of employer-provided health care, Obama will veto the bill, key House and Senate liberals will vote against the bill, and the progressive movement will oppose it?

Unless Obama, Congressional liberals, and the progressive movement are prepared to draw a line in the sand behind these key, non-negotiable, reform principals, the health industry lobby will eat their lunch, health care reform will turn into a government bailout for the insurance companies, and over the next few years the public may turn against Democrats who allowed such a flawed form of health care reform to become law. It won't be a matter of the "perfect being the enemy of the good" but of the bad being the enemy of the even worse.

Read it all here

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