Strong opinions, weakly held

What remains of health care reform

The Institute of Medicine’s methodology says 22,000 people died in 2006 because they didn’t have health-care coverage. A recent Harvard study found the number nearer to 45,000. Since we talk about the costs of health-care reform over a 10-year period, may as well talk about the lives saved that way, too. And we’re looking, easily, at more than a hundred thousand lives, to say nothing of the people who will be spared bankruptcy, chronic pain, unnecessary impairment, unnecessary caretaking, bereavement, loss of wages, painful surgeries, and so on.

A lot of progressives woke up this morning feeling like they lost. They didn’t. The public option and its compromised iterations were a battle that came to seem like a war. But they weren’t the war. The bill itself was. When liberals talked about the dream of universal health-care insurance 10, 20 and 30 years ago, they talked about the plight of the uninsured, not the necessity of a limited public option in competition with private insurers.

Ezra Klein on what remains in health care reform. Yes, it’s still worth passing the bill. In sports terminology, passing the bill that’s out there now constitutes “escaping with a win,” not losing.

Update: Please also read Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill, by Nate Silver.

Update: Kevin Drum:

Ten years ago this bill would have seemed a godsend. The fact that it doesn’t now is a reflection of higher aspirations from the left, and that’s great.

Update: Here’s one proposal for how health care reform should have been handled, politically. It reads like a joke to me. How many Senators were against more substantial reform and letting Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Joe Lieberman, and Ben Nelson take the flack? I suspect that Rahm Emanuel and Harry Reid have a better count than I do, and that the number is far greater than zero. Yglesias names a few of them in his post.


  1. Rafe,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Reading this was a nice antidote to the hopeless feelings I was getting this morning.

    I have to think that, in sizing up Lieberman’s threat, that Rahm and Obama knew that one has to be pragmatic regarding what can be done, and get it done. This is why they let him “have what he wants”.

    Now let’s hope the left-most Democratic senators don’t decide to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  2. I think the bill probably deserves to get passed, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about the tax-farming consequences of forcing people to buy insurance from private entities.

    Then again since much else of what the government does already amounts to tax farming, I don’t know that one more matters. At least this bill has a redistributive component, even if it’s fairly weak.

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