Sunday, December 27, 2009

Many on the left have been bemoaning the passage of the Senate health care bill, believing it has been gutted to the point where if anything it has become more of a Christmas gift to insurance companies, therefore better to sink it.

While there is much truth in this sentiment, the many positives in the bill have been seemingly tossed by the wayside, receiving little if any well-deserved attention. Ezra Klein and Kevin Drum have both done yeoman's work in their efforts to highlight many of the bill's pluses.

A key point Kevin makes is this imperfect attempt at reform is a move forward and essentially lays a foundation on which to build, to years down the road not just modify what is in need of fixing, but to also pass measures that compliment existing policy in the bill. Before you know it, a once severely compromised bill "matures" into an increasingly stronger bedrock of reform -- much like how coral serves as the foundational base of a reef. If not for the coral, all that follows in terms of growth and life forms taking hold would be impossible.

If anything, we should look at this bill as a first salvo or shot across the bow. It serves as a tipping point that could set the stage for several additional reform initiatives to come in the future. Looking back, we could one day attribute this bill as that which got the ball rolling. After all, civil rights reform or environmental progress did not come about overnight, with the passage of one comprehensive piece of legislation. It took several steps and much political debate and fights over years to achieve gradual, but meaningful, change. We should expect the same with health care.

In effect, with this bill insurance players may breathe a sigh of relief -- but going forward the extremely favorable terms they've been accustomed to should only get increasingly tougher. Like "peak oil," conditions have likely crested for these companies and their time of unfettered dominance is over. In exchange, we should finally get the health care system we not only deserve, but one that won't bankrupt us. It won't happen next year, or in 2011 for that matter, yet over time it will happen and this bill serves as a crucial starting point.

Happy Holidays & New Year!

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