Last week’s seven hour health care summit was basically a rehash of the ideas that were tossed around throughout the last year of health care reform debate. Neither party seems willing to negotiate much more in terms of the nitty gritty of the reform, and it’s looking like the Dems might try to use reconciliation to push through their reform bill.
The Republicans are saying that we need to start again, scrap the whole thing, and take “baby steps” towards a solution. But I’m skeptical as to how that would work. For the most part, congress in 2010 is made up of the same people that were there in 2009 (with some notable exceptions, like John Murtha and Ted Kennedy). I find it hard to believe that starting again would result in a significantly different bill this time around. Wouldn’t it just be a waste of another year of lawmaking efforts? It’s unlikely that the people who came up with the first bill would be willing to make major changes if they did it again this year… we’ve seen resistance to compromise from both sides of the aisle over and over during this debate, including during the bipartisan summit last week.
As for the idea of “baby steps”, I don’t really understand the benefit that would be created by going slowly. The current House and Senate bills could be considered baby steps as they are, given that most of their major provisions wouldn’t take effect for another three years. For people who are uninsured and struggling to pay for health care (or not receiving any at all), I imagine that the prospect of a three year wait seems like an eternity already.
A lot of the provisions in the current bill make sense: no pre-existing condition exclusions, no policy rescissions, subsidies to help people pay for health insurance, and a strong mandate requiring everyone to carry health insurance. Americans are generally in favor of the idea of doing away with pre-existing conditions exclusions and policy rescissions, but tend to balk at the idea of requiring everyone to carry health insurance. But I doubt that the former are possible without the latter… unless we all want to pay much higher health insurance premiums.
If we started over, do we really think that the same group of lawmakers would come up with a dramatically different bill the second time around?