Health Care Reform–What does it Mean?

For better or for worse (in sickness and in health, heh heh ) a health care reform bill was recently passed in the Senate, so where do we stand and what does it mean?

Is it a done deal?  No, the House and Senate have passed bills that aren’t identical, so a committee will work to iron out the differences and a revised bill then has to clear both bodies.  Given that the Democrats did not have a single vote to spare in the Senate, passing a different version of the bill is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.

Should it matter that polls indicate that most Americans are uncomfortable with the reforms?  Actually, I don’t know that it should per se.  In theory, our members of Congress should vote their consciences even when the right thing is not the most popular thing.  A better question might be “Why is the public skittish?”

The answers are many, and Congress is accountable for them.  People feel like such a complicated process has been thrown together too hastily and tweaked so much that it isn’t entirely clear what the bill says or what its consequences will be.  People suspect it’ll add to our debt burden, not subtract from it.  And people are upset that Nebraska is getting a free pass on $100 million of the costs over the next 10 years.  Not only is this not fair, but it brings attention back to the second problem–if this is such a fiscally effective bill, why does Nebraska need to get out of paying for it?  And how does that affect the burden on the other 49 states?

The left and the right ends of the political spectrum don’t like this bill (in its current form), but President Barack Obama has endorsed it.  This is not a new trail he is blazing.  Many other Presidents have tried to play it down the middle on big issues, including Truman, Carter, and both Bushs.  But is this really the company that our current President wants to be keeping?  Dwight Eisenhower was a popular moderate, but he had that whole winning World War Two thing going for him.