Throwing Out The Health Reform Baby With The Bathwater

24 Aug

This is just a quick thought that I wanted to share. Everyone knows the saying “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” It means be careful not to lose the good when getting rid of the bad. Another similar saying is “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” That is, don’t strive for perfection so much that you end up doing nothing at all and foregoing something quite good.

I was asked recently if I was a friend or a foe of the current reform proposal. Obviously, the questioner had not read my blog. I replied that I generally considered myself a friend of the proposal, but also noted that there were many things about reform that were less than ideal. It’s important that we keep in mind that this is a big piece of proposed legislation. The majority of the House bill, for example, has not been publicly discussed–other than to raise concerns about its length and all of the things it might contain that supposedly no one in Congress has read.

Of the few points that have been raised, most are not actually accurate reports of what the bill contains, though some, like the public option, are. The public option has gained so much attention–both pro and con–that it is worth remembering: There is much more to this legislation than just the public option. That’s not to say the public option is good or bad, just that it’s not the entirety of reform.

No legislation that I know of has been without its flaws. Just look at Medicare Part D. Prescription drug coverage for seniors was well overdue when that law was enacted, but there were so many things done poorly in that legislation, that we’re still trying to fix it. I don’t think any seniors would want their coverage rescinded though.

This health reform will be no different. It’s just another step–albeit a fairly large one–in the right direction. There will still be things that need to be addressed after it is passed. We have no way of telling the future, and so Congress will just have to build those bridges when we find a new river that must be crossed.

The funny thing is: people talk about specific provisions of the reform legislation as if they will be voted on separately. The public option is a perfect example. The fact of the matter is, however, that the public option either is, or isn’t, part of a much larger bill. The real question is: Are opponents of the public option so opposed to it that they will vote against what is, on the whole, the most substantial health reform legislation since the 1960s? Or, will vote against cloture if the bill contains a public option? Here’s what will happen if they do:

So, I envision a Senate bill being passed without a public option.Speaker Pelosi has already indicated that the House will not pass a bill without a public option. So, when the votes are cast, I believe that the House bill will include a public option. Meanwhile, the Senate keeps dragging its feet and watering down the government’s role in health reform, going from the public option to co-ops, with none of the proposals garnering Republican support. Then we get to the conference committee, and the public option becomes the point of contention.

Even if the Senate passes a bill without a public option, it comes back up on the table during conference. The moderate Democrats who are threatening not to vote for a bill with a public option and not to vote for cloture if such a bill is being debated, need to realize this. The bathwater will be thrown out during conference either way. They’d be wise to see to it that they hold on to the baby, though, instead of letting the filibuster–or their own lack of moral fortitude–steal it away.

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Posted by on August 24, 2009 in Uncategorized


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