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May 06, 2008

Health care reform - what are the chances?

There is a retty good chance of implementing successful health care reforms in this country making health care available to more people and to provide affordable health insurance to more families and individuals. Probably there is 60:40 chance or better that there will be major reform in the next Congress.

Here's why.

Sen Ron Wyden's (D OR) Healthy Americans Act has six D and six R Senate cosponsors, including Bob Bennett (R UT). There is broad bipartisan support for the bill, which mandates universal coverage.

WalMart and the SEIU back the bill.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses backs some form of 'universal' reform.

Both Democratic Presidential candidates back major reform.

Congress has been stung by criticism of its inability to get much done - and health care reform is something big that needs doing.

Many of the Fortune 500 back reform, including automakers, service companies, and manufacturers. And the unions that represent their workers do too.

This impressive array of supporters is opposed by...well, it must be opposed by some groups, companies, politicians, lobbies, but it is hard to find much in the way of opposition, at least using internet search engines. We can look to California to find out how and why their efforts to pass reform failed. A loose coalition, comprised of Republican legislators, Blue Cross of California [WellPoint], the state Chamber of Commerce, and the tobacco industry joined together to oppose the bill, and their efforts got a major push from legislators' deep concerns about the cost of the initiative and the Golden State's financial straits. A closely related issue is the concern by many that states, acting alone, cannot enact meaningful reform for the simple reason that 1/3 of all health care dollars are controlled (to a great extent) by the Feds, and if these dollars, and the care they pay for and members they cover aren't integrated into a comprehensive reform measure, the effort is doomed to fail. Cost shifting, contradicting priorities, differing measures of success and evaluation methodologies will result in a confused, bifurcated system that serves neither population well.

Similarly, the problems emerging in Massachusetts and Maine make it less likely that states will successfully pursue reform measures. Instead, the states, a powerful lobbying group in and of themselves, will likely join others to support national reform.

Click here for affordable California health care coverage!

Posted by healthinsurance at May 6, 2008 12:19 PM

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