I love Wonkette's headline this morning: "House Votes to Kill Your Grandmother & All Christians, 220-215."
The House bill, which has to go through further watering down in the Senate and is a *long* way from becoming law , is a step in the right direction. Problem is, I think we are *far* past the point where "steps in the right direction" are going to take us where we want to be: quality, accessible, evidence based health care. I honestly think that, with the exception of health care providers and people with serious medical problems, very few Americans understand how far we are from that goal and how entrenched the institutions are that are trying to keep us from this goal.
I am all for market based approaches that improve quality and drive down costs. The problem is that quality and cost aren't where insurance companies are competing. They compete with strong arm negotiations with hospitals, denials of coverage, and lobbying money. This bill, while setting up some standards for fair competition, is also requiring the American People to give more money to the insurance industry. I personally am just skeptical that they won't find other clever ways to screw us; their primary allegiance is to shareholders, not patients. Yes, this bill does currently include a limited public plan (which I highly doubt will make into the Senate bill) but (as I understand it) it is a self-funding plan for individuals without employer sponsored insurance who are going to be forced to buy something, and it will compete against similar plans offered by private insurers. Pretty weak tea. Anything that doesn't allow a person with employer provided insurance to opt into a public plan, you know, in case they're curious about what consumer-driven health care would really look like, falls short.
If our legislative branch wasn't totally corrupted by lobbyists, the negotiations should have started with "Socialize all medicine now!" and settled for the optional public plan. I am not a communist, I just want a better health care system that's in-line with the rest of the civilized world.