Summary of Health Care Reform Up Until Now

Jonathan Weisman, Neil King, and Janet Adamy wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal today documenting the key moments in the debate over health care.  The information has been summarized below for The Factoring Blog’s readership…

Back in 2005, a coalition of liberal health care groups, named the Herndon Alliance, asked focus groups what they thought of a potential government overhaul of the health care system.  The response was similar to what Democrats were seeing at their town hall meetings this past August: A government overhaul would raise costs and reduce care for those already insured. 

Weisman, King, and Adamy write that insured Americans, a majority of which like their current coverage, do not believe there will be any benefit to them by changing the system. And if anything, they believe it will do them harm.  Also, Americans aren’t buying proponents’ claims that the $1 trillion plan will be deficit neutral and not increase taxes. 

Former President, Bill Clinton, has been through this process before.  Back in 1994, his health care plan was defeated due to similar concerns.  With the deficit as high as it is and the economy as bad as it is, the current fears are heightened significantly.  The only difference between Obama and Clinton has been a strategy by Obama to line up supporters from leaders in the industry (health care insurers, pharmaceutical makers, and care providers) believing he could win over Republicans as well.  However, Weisman, King, and Adamy say this strategy proved to be a big failure as public outcry about the public plan got louder every day.

Meanwhile, politicians in the Senate Finance Committee are no closer to getting a bipartisan bill on the table.  A start-up team of 11 Senators quickly downsized to six.  The three Republicans left on the team refuse to include the public option in any bill along with other liberal provisions, which Democrats won’t change. 

Republicans have been calling for Obama to renounce the public option provision if serious talks about a bipartisan bill could progress.  The president has yet to do so, and there are no indications he will listen to the majority of Americans who don’t want the public option. 

President Obama is in a difficult spot right now.  On the one side, Democrats say they won’t support a bill without the public option.  On the other, Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats will not vote for a bill that includes a public plan.  The only feasible way for Obama and the Democrats to pass their version of health care reform will be through reconciliation, which requires a simple majority to pass a bill instead of the standard 60 votes in the Senate. 

Obama is in the process of planning yet another speech, this time to Congress, which will be broadcast live in primetime to the American people sometime next week. 

In what seems to be his last-ditch effort to push a bill through, will he succeed? Or will he just go down in history as the second politician to fail in reforming health care?

To read the entire article from the Wall Street Journal, click here: Wrong Turns: How Obama’s Health-Care Push Went Astray

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