So I guess they’re not as strongly opposed to government interfering with health care these days. Harry and Louise are back. Where they once talked about the evils of rationed health care in a government run system and how “having choices we don’t like is no choice at all,” now they’re talking about people without health insurance “falling through the cracks.” Last time, when Bill and Hillary Clinton were trying to reform American health care, the ads were sponsored by the Health Insurance Association of America, and played on the fears people had about “socialized” medicine. This time, Harry and Louise have a bit more diverse sponsorship. There’s liberal advocacy group Families USA, along with the conservative National Federation of Independent Businesses (incidentally, that group was very opposed to the Clintons’ health care reform ideas back in the 90s). An unlikely pairing to be sponsoring the same ads during an election season, but it demonstrates how health care has become an issue that reaches across party lines. There are lots of very different ideas about what needs to be done to fix our ailing health care system, but most people believe that something does indeed need to be done. The ad campaign is also sponsored by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Hospital Association and the Catholic Health Association.
Here’s Harry and Louise back when Clinton was trying to reform health care the first time around. The new ad will debut today, and run for the next couple weeks during the Democratic and Republican conventions. I’m sure the ad will get plenty of airtime in the Colorado market, as Democrats from all across the country descend on our state next week.
Obviously things are a bit different than they were in ’93. On a positive note, we don’t spray our bangs into 6-inch high walls anymore. But affordable health insurance – along with access to health care – isn’t as easy to come by as it once was. I wonder if the problem has touched enough people to really trigger genuine change? That remains to be seen, although Robert Laszewski makes some very good points about how most Americans are still shielded from the high costs of health care. Working in the individual health insurance industry in Colorado, and having individual health insurance for my family, I am confronted every day with high deductibles, rate increases, pre-existing condition troubles, and the difficulty people face when they have to pay for health insurance and meet deductibles without assistance from an employer. It’s easy to start thinking that everyone sees the same issues. But the fact remains that most Americans still get their health insurance from an employer, with no worries about pre-existing conditions or medical underwriting. And most employers still pay a good chunk of their workers’ health insurance premiums.
Both presidential candidates have made health care a big part of their platforms, but when the dust settles in January and the policy makers get down to business, will either man be able to convince congress to implement his plan as described? (let’s not forget that while candidates love to talk about reform, the president doesn’t get to just dictate policy from the Oval Office. Oh, wait. Sorry. Sometimes they get confused by the details of the checks and balances). Chances are, once the lobbyists and lawmakers finish tinkering with the details, any reform that does come about in the next few years will bear little resemblance to the proposals we’ve heard from Obama and McCain this year. But at least this time around Harry and Louise think that we could use a few changes.