Every day I read several news sources with articles about health insurance and health care reform. Last year, Colorado’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform was in the news all the time. Last fall, health care reform was one of the major buzz words on the political stage as a crowd of potential presidential candidates started vying to be in the decidedly un-enviable position of a major party nominee. Health care reform of some sort was on the must-do list of every candidate. These days, when I go looking for articles about health care and health insurance reform, I don’t find as many. Instead, I find made-for-daytime-tv stories of a pregnant teen and her mother’s moose hunting abilities.
Jeff Goldsmith from The Health Care Blog has written an article that perfectly describes how health care reform seems to have faded from the national radar. He describes how most people view health care reform: finding a way to lower their own health care costs. For people with very comprehensive, employer-sponsored health insurance, the plight of those with no access to health insurance or health care will be hard to grasp and may not seem like a major priority. Instead, the overall economy, mortgage crisis, gas prices, the war in Iraq – all of these things have overshadowed the place in the sun the health care reform enjoyed a year ago.
Jeff’s article highlights the hurdles that any meaningful health care reform will have to overcome. A Democratic majority in congress is almost a given after the November elections, which means that if McCain wins the presidential election, he’ll have to compromise significantly in order to get his version of reform passed. If Obama wins, he’ll have to juggle a long list of other major changes that the Dems have been waiting for, and there might not be enough money for all of the projects on the list, even if they do roll back Bush’s tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. Our health care system and private health insurance is very entrenched in the American way of life. Significant changes are not likely to happen any time soon – there are just too many other fires that have to be put out first. I imagine that the new president and somewhat fresh congress will address health care next year, but it will probably be in the form of small-scale, around-the-edges fixes. And while it would be nice to see sweeping reform that somehow provides health insurance and access to health care for the 47 million Americans (760,000 of them right here in Colorado) who don’t have health insurance at all right now, I’d be happy with anything that puts us on the path towards lowering that number and reducing the inequitable nature of our current health care system.