Monday, March 22, 2010

Is perfect the enemy of the barely good enough?

So, it seems that the US finally got its health care reform - and as Obama said, “This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform.” The problem is of course, that many felt (myself included) that the US needed a radical reform, not a major reform.

The health care system in the US is broke - it's the most expensive health care system in the world, yet the US patients seem to be getting sub-par health care for all that money - perhaps because of the amount of money spent on administration of insurances. On top of that, a large portion of the US population is uncovered, and the no 1 cause of bankruptcies in the US is still related to health care costs.

Taking all these things into consideration, it's hard to be too happy about the health care reform, which barely addresses these issues. Yes, there are some very good things in the reform (e.g. not allowing the insurance companies to refuse coverage to people with pre-existing conditions from childhood, and not allow them to drop coverage of people who become sick), but there are also some really horrible things in it (the dependency on insurance companies, the anti-abortion provision).

Even having stated all my reservations, I am glad that it finally looks like some kind of health care bill will pass. Yes, it's barely good enough for it to be considered any kind of improvement on the current situation, but that's because we wanted so much more. Any bill which extends health care coverages for tens of millions is definitely a step in the right direction.

And with the danger of going all real-politic on you, it's important to take the current political situation into consideration. Currently the Republicans are the party of No, refusing any kind of bi-partisanship. This means that the Democrats have to find the votes within their own ranks, which means convincing some of the DINOs to vote for the bill. This will unfortunately compromise the progressiveness of the bill, allowing things like the anti-abortion provision to be included. Hopefully these deficiencies can be corrected at a later stage.

So, to answer this post's title - yes, waiting for the perfect would have been a bad move. This was what caused the health care reform to fail during Nixon. A health care reform which would have been much more progressive than the current reform in the works.

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Blogger bjkeefe said...

Yep, it's a step, and it's a big step, both in practical terms and symbolically.

The thing is, any improvement that might be desired -- a public option, better abortion coverage, fewer perqs for the insurance companies -- can be done in another bill anytime we want. The difference is, we won't be starting from ground zero on any of those objectives. We've reached a new plateau that will, fairly soon, be thought of as the new ground zero.

As a few astute observers have noted, the best bill you can get is what the 60th most liberal Senator can live with. That's reality in our system. It sucks, but that's reality.

So, tonight is a great night, and I say that as a card-carrying cynic.

March 22, 2010 8:46 AM  
Blogger Green Stone said...

I'm glad you Americans finally have some rudimentary health care, even if it'll take decades (centuries? never?) to get universal; I would have hated to see that bill go down. Yeah it's not a perfect bill, and there's some things that that really shouldn't be in there, but the precedent has been set for future successes.

March 22, 2010 10:53 AM  
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