health care

Quick Hit: Health Care Reform

Well, it’s done.  The House has passed the Senate bill, and the package of reconciliation fixes.

There are a bunch of good things that kick in quickly, and that’s a big plus.  Some thirty-odd million more people are going to have health care coverage, and insurance companies will (at least in theory, though I expect they’ll find whatever ways around this they can) be prohibited from denying coverage to or retroactively rescinding coverage from sick people.

There’s no long-term solution to rising costs, and the Democrats’ — from the President on down — betrayal of their own party platform, which says “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right,” is craven, disgusting, and disheartening in the extreme.  And this is an absurdly industry-friendly bill, carefully tailored to maintain insurance company profits, and to not introduce any measures, such as genuine competition from a public option, optional earlier Medicare buy-in, removing their anti-trust exemption, or new, robust regulation, that would come close to bringing American per capita health care costs in line with the rest of the developed world, who spend much less for care as good or better than ours because single-payer systems are more efficient.

So in short, the Democrats remain a party largely under the influence of corporate money and the inbuilt misogyny of our social structure, while the Republicans are not only completely and happily under those influences but actively seeking at all times to expand them.  D. Aristophanes’ graph, thus, applies pretty well both to the HCR bill and to the parties themselves.

In other news, as Paul Krugman notes, Newt Gingrich is now attacking the HCR bill by comparing it to LBJ’s civil rights legislation.  Hey Newt, your mask is slipping.

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Another Note on Kennedy: Politicization

Atrios and Amanda Marcotte have this exactly right, of course.  And more generally, as Aimai notes, using a major figure’s death to try to galvanize support for the causes that person believed in is a perfectly normal, reasonable thing to do, and it would really be nice if we’d all stop pretending that there’s something wrong with saying: Ted Kennedy is no longer with us, but let us honor his memory by fighting harder, by doubling our efforts, to achieve those goals to which he dedicated his life.  Health care for all.  A living wage for all.  Equality under the law.  The principle that human rights do not end where citizenship does.  A better world.

After all, on the one hand Kennedy was a master politician.  He loved politics, he lived and breathed politics, he believed — as I believe — that politics is not only a necessary, inherent part of human life but has the potential to be used for great good.  To suggest that we would do him best honor by refraining from politics seems odd, at best.  And on the other hand, it’s not as though conservatives are going to scrupulously avoid “politicizing” his death, though they’ll mainly do it under cover of pretending to decry liberal “politicization.”  Indeed, digby points out that Limbaugh is already doing this.

Actually, Limbaugh is a little bit right, here, though I’m pretty sure it’s by accident.  Attaching Kennedy’s name to the bill most likely to pass — some watered-down compromise with no public option and a lot of giveaways to insurance companies — would be an insult to his memory.  Senator Kennedy was a pragmatic incrementalist, as also am I, but he always fought to get as much as he thought he could each time.  Incrementalism ceases to be pragmatic if you seek only the tiniest improvement even when a greater leap is feasible, and health care, now, is surely such a case.  Nearly four in five Americans supports a public option. To fail to take advantage of that opportunity, and especially to embrace such failure as a fitting tribute to Senator Kennedy’s legacy, would truly be an insult.