Colorado Representative Betsy Markey has announced that she will vote yes on the health care reform bill on Sunday, following her no vote last November. The new CBO numbers that were released this week apparently had a lot to do with her decision; she stated that reducing the deficit by “$138 billion in the first 10 years, $1.2 trillion in the second 10 years — those are figures I simply cannot ignore.” The CBO numbers are better than expected, and will likely convince some fence-riding Democrats to vote for the bill. Another Colorado Representative, John Salazar, has also announced that he will support the bill this weekend.
In the Health Wonk Review this week, an article by Joe Paduda pointed out that the current health care reform bill might be built on fantasy, since it was mainly focused on expanding coverage, without a lot of substance directed at cost containment. And ultimately, such a structure isn’t sustainable. I agree with Joe, and believe that we have to aggressively address the issue of health care cost. But since we have so many people who have no health insurance and are dying as a result, it seems that we have to tackle the access to care issue first, and then figure out the money part – those people simply don’t have time for us to spend years working on cost containment before we expand access to care. And according to the CBO, it looks like the changes that were made in the compromise version of the bill will end up making health care reform more sustainable and affordable than it has looked so far.
The new CBO numbers predict a large long-term deficit reduction, partially because the bill was amended to address paying for health care by slowing the growth of government subsidies, and increasing the growth of excise taxes to pay for the reform. As Ezra Klein points out, doing things that constituents might not like in the short term, but that solve problems in the long run, is what governing is all about. Nobody said it’s easy, but sometimes it’s got to be done.