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POLICY: 1991 redux? NY Times discovers health care crisis, Democrats response to it

Apparently there’s a health care crisis going on. 43 odd million uninsured, (that’s at any one time–25 million basically permanently 80 million for some substantial time in any 4 year period), costs going through the roof (premiums up 8% over inflation in 2002 and more last year), and Medicaid coming under the knife. Oh, and seniors hate the NAIM (new and improved Medicare). The NY Times reports that the Democrats all have their health care plans and are taking them seriously. However, there are two minor differences between 2004-6 and 1991-4:

a) With the exception of the three outsiders’ single payer plan, none of the "main" Demo candidates proposals gets to universal coverage.  Don’t forget these are proposals.  And as you know any Presidential proposal will get watered down over the course of the negotiations in the Congress–especially in a Republican Congress.  So if, to pick on one suspect, Dr. Dean’s proposal will take us from 86% insured to 92% insured, the actual result may be to go from 86% insured to 91% insured–and that he’d regard as a victory.  It’s impact on the hard core uninsured and the providers who have to deal with them would be close to unnoticeable.

b) It’s not 1991.  We haven’t just won the cold war and can now concentrate on the peace time economy.  We’re involved in a never-ending "war" that whatever your view on it will be the main event in elections form now to 2006 and beyond.  Health care will be a poor second till the mass of NASCAR dads (the ones in the South who economically should be Democrats but culturally are conservatives and decide Presidential elections) get closer to retirement age and notice that they might need Medicare and Social Security.

In the meantime Bush is pushing his $89Bn tax break for the uninsured to buy their own insurance really hard.  I think he’s mentioned it twice in three years!

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