So, I’ve finished reading the bill. Did I miss some things? Certainly. Did I miss something important? Probably. No surprise, it’s a massive bill. Often the language repeats, the same qualifications and requirements applying to different situations. But I have a much better grasp of what the Senate Democrats were trying to accomplish. I tried, for the most part, to keep my opinions out of what I wrote earlier. So, if you hung with me this far, and don’t want my opinions, you have my permission to stop reading now. Here’s what I think:
First, you have to understand that this bill doesn’t begin to resemble the “Federal takeover of health care” that the Republicans, Tea Party, and assorted other right-wing elements would have you believe. Many of the things it does are fix things that you and I hear friends, coworkers, and ourselves complaining about constantly. Does it fix them the best way possible? Maybe not. What’s the best way for you, and the best way for me, are likely different things. But it would make many parts of our health care system better, or more bearable. Does it save money? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on things like efficiency improvements, and cutting some subsidies, and increasing some taxes. But by standardizing things like application and reimbursement forms, and forcing policies to be explained in plain language, and forcing insurance companies and healthcare provides to provide performance reports in common formats, it simplifies the process of getting and using healthcare and insurance. It means people with pre-existing conditions can get decent coverage and keep it. I know many people think people with pre-existing conditions are simply doing things to themselves that affects their health, but there’s so much more to it, and that’s such a callous attitude.
Yes, the Secretary of HHS has a great deal of discretionary power in this bill. The status quo isn’t going to change on its on, and that means someone somewhere has to do the pushing and pulling.
Most of all, my impression is that this bill could so easily have been much better, and could have addressed many of the objections of its opponent, if the Republicans had not decided to arrange themselves in lockstep opposition to anything and everything the Democrats tried to do, and simply say “no” over and over, like a 5-year-old who won’t eat his broccoli. And I don’t buy the “they wouldn’t allow any of our ideas on the table” argument. These guys have been doing this a long time – they know how to reach across and work with the other side. It could have been so much more. But it should be passed. It’s not a great bill, it may not even be a very good bill, but it’s good enough.