I’ve been trying all day long to write a post about health care, and I just haven’t been able to get anywhere. The source of my frustration, after the jump.
To be honest, there are all sorts of aggravating things flying around the Internets right now. This idiotic post from TNR’s Jonathan Chait really exemplifies what it means to kneel at the alter of Establishment Politics. Headlined “Keep Your 16 Grand, You Freaks” — a reference to money FireDogLake raised for Dennis Kucinich after he promised to vote no on any bill not containing a public option — the post contains Chait’s brave insults toward Kucinich and FDL for being liberals, apparently. Tim Egan engaged in similar shenanigans yesterday, which I wrote about here. The idea that Dennis Fucking Kucinich is the goddamn enemy of health care reform and should be treated with scorn, regardless of how he ends up voting, is so simple-minded that it doesn’t even deserve to be responded to.
But the main source of my frustration, the burr in my heel I just can’t remove, is this fantastic post from Jon Walker over at FDL. The title is “It’s Not That the Health Care Bill Does Too Little Good, It’s That It Does Too Much Harm,” and I highly recommend reading it in full. Here’s one especially convincing passage:
The Senate bill further entrenches the private health insurance system. It continues the terrible pattern of privatizing our social safety net in such a way that business skims 20% off the top. It makes sure the big, life saving medications of the future remain incredibly expensive, so as to enrich the drug industry. It takes a giant step towards eroding women’s reproductive rights. It wastes hundreds of millions to fortify the same, broken health care system that is crushing our economy. The worst part is I don’t see anything in this bill that might serve as a path to real reform. There is no public option or Medicare buy-in. There is no proper state single payer waiver. There is no mechanism to move to an all-payer system and/or a clear path to force for-profit companies out of the health insurance market.
Those are very real, very legitimate concerns that no one, as far as I can tell, has adequately addressed. The closest you get is someone writing, “this bill is not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.” Ezra Klein, writing back in December about the Senate bill, which the final bill will resemble almost identically, said this:
“This is a good bill,” Sen. Sherrod Brown said on Countdown last night. “Not a great bill, but a good bill.” That’s about right. But the other piece to remember is that more than it’s a good bill, it’s a good start. With $900 billion in subsidies already in place, it’s easier to add another hundred billion later, if we need it, than it would be to pass $1 trillion in subsidies in 2011. With the exchanges built and private insurers unable to hold down costs, it’s easier to argue for adding a strong public option to the market than it was before we’d tried regulation and a new competitive structure. [emphasis added.]
Again, that was back in December, but the larger point stands. I don’t see how any single-payer or public option advocates can say that this bill increases the odds that we’ll see fundamental reform any time soon. What evidence is there that there will be more political will in the near future to create a public option? Virtually the entire liberal blogosphere is now banding behind the health care bill, and that’s fine. But you can’t have it both ways. This bill covers 30 million new people and will make it more difficult for insurance companies to exclude patients based on pre-existing conditions (neither one of which is a small feat), but it is not a step away from a for-profit based model. It is a strengthening of our current system, and those who are urging its passage should understand it as such.