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Belmont Club

The murky future of healthcare

August 3rd, 2009 - 12:00 am

The Huffington Post describes the administration’s health care proposals as a work in progress. Sheri and Allan Rivlin write:

Some voters may believe the criticisms from the Republicans that the Democrats are plotting a government takeover of health care, while other voters may be lamenting that such ambitious plans have now been taken off the table. The irony is that Obama’s much maligned strategy of letting Congress hammer out the details of health care reform is just now starting to look quite sensible.

After several ideas have been floated only to sink from the weight of too large a price tag, there continue to be negotiations in both the Senate and the House where liberals and moderates are slogging through the messy details and making progress toward a set of incremental reforms that actually have a chance of passage and could make a real difference in improving the life and health of millions of Americans. Rather than criticizing incremental reform as half measures and sellouts, this is just the kind of progress progressives should be ready to embrace.

That side-steps the question of what their respective “visions” for health care are, which you can define as what the health care system would look like if either the conservatives or the liberals had their druthers. Tigerhawk has had three posts in a row on the subject of what he thinks the administration is up to. 1, 2, 3. Tigerhawk’s latest post says:

If you do not believe conservatives who say that the “public option” is a trojan horse for a single-payer health care system, you’re always free to believe the liberals. Obviously that’s the reason for it. There is no other even theoretical justification that makes sense.

I think it is fair to say that captures what at least some of proponents of “health care reform” are working for. It’s a fact that some want a “single payer system”. It may not be what they can achieve, but maybe its what they want. Surely that is a legitimate goal to work for. However, Barack Obama argued that suspecting such an agenda even existed was an “illegitimate concern”. Why should it be any more illegitimate to believe that advocates for a single payer system exist than it is to advocate it? Or are there some things that people are allowed to work for which we are not allowed to think they’re working toward?

When the Huffington Post tells “progressives” not to worry about a “sellout” while  “other voters may be lamenting that such ambitious plans have now been taken off the table” doesn’t that translate to “don’t worry if we don’t get a single payer system this time around”? Well I don’t know. But I hope it’s not illegitimate to wonder.

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