Monday, December 21, 2009

Health Care Phase II

If the Democrats can hold together, something resembling the current health care bills in the Senate and House will probably pass in the near future. However, from the liberal point of view, these bills have major problems. There are two ways to approach this: give up, hand the Republicans a major victory and probably control of Congress in 2010, or take what we can get and immediately start with the following mantra: "Medicare for All."

The simplest way to get what we want is to allow anyone to buy into Medicare or the federal private insurance pool at cost. This gives people the additional choice of government or private insurance with the federal government's bargaining power. What's not to like?

The law on the verge of passing provides protection from the worst insurance practices and subsidies for those who cannot afford insurance. It also mandates that preventative care is provided. All that is needed is a simple bill letting people in on what the government already does.

However, if the present bill fails, we're toast. As any good engineer knows, better is the enemy of good enough, which brings me to a great if completely tangental story.

Many years ago a former astronaut was put in charge of building a new public library. Unlike many government projects, the library was completed a few weeks ahead of schedule and slightly under budget. A newspaper reporter interviewed the astronaut and asked him how he did it. He replied "I bought a big fancy desk and put it in my office. Every day I put on a suit and tie and sat behind the desk. Every time someone came into the office with a bright idea about how to make the library better I said no."

Health reform Phase I is within our grasp. Phase II is easy to sell: why shouldn't everyone have what seniors have and like?

Don't blow it. Support the current health care bill, with all its many warts and flaws.

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