What Are We Really Debating with Health Reform?

I spoke last week to the Downtown Rotary Club 13 about the new health reform law. I was impressed by the turnout, by the quality of questions and how open minded the Rotary members were about this issue.

Most of the national and local polls conducted show that a small majority of people still do not approve of the new law but a majority of people do approve of most of the provision contained in the new law. Frankly, this is easy to understand because the legislative debates that lead to this new law were mean spirited and very partisan. I think many people lost faith in the legislative process because of the bickering and seemingly endless political actions that did not seem to focus on the health care needs of the consumer.

For better or worse we have a new heath law. Most policy wonks will tell you the new law very closely mirrors the health plan President Nixon proposed in 1974. Unfortunately, the Nixon plan was not given adequate time for debate because of Watergate. The heath reforms Republican leaders were advocating for in 1974, no longer were acceptable to them in 2010. And Democrats, who thought these health reform ideas were troublesome in 1974, were suddenly embracing them in 2010. Legislators of both parties seem to be much too obsessed with politics, and perhaps not obsessed enough with achieving quality, affordable health outcomes for all Americans.

I think the new law was much needed – our current health system is not working for all Americans, especially the uninsured and underserved, especially for those who do not work for employers who offer health insurance at the work place. Sure there will be changes in the law as years go by…every law is amended and the new health reform law will be no different.

My hope is that both Republicans and Democrats understand that legislative compromise is a strength of statesmanship and not a weakness of political principle. We need statesmanship from our elected leaders who are willing to listen and learn and compromise with each other in thoughtful and ongoing debate. The days of making important policy decision based upon 30 second TV ads need to be over!

Health Reform

Health Forward Foundation
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