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Tag: Compromise

A Health Care Setup Both Sides Could Live With

Before long the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the health care reform law, a decision that will have tremendous policy ramifications and could reshape the presidential election.

But even if the court overturns the Affordable Care Act, as some observers predict, that won’t change the reality that our country’s health care system is seriously broken. In short, regardless of what the court says, people will still be getting sick, costs will keep rising and too many people will be uninsured. And our federal budget will never be sustainable if we can’t bring health care costs under control.

The Democratic Party and progressives invested a huge amount of political capital in getting Congress to pass the ACA in 2010. The act was not perfect, but it did provide a start to the many years of work needed to create a sustainable health care system. In speeches, Republicans and conservatives acknowledge that our health care system is unsustainable and have spoken of a need to “replace”; however, in the two years since the ACA passed, they have failed to be clear about what they actually favor.

As we look to what we’re actually going to do about the problem, what’s clear is that progressives and conservatives both need to move beyond their familiar positions to find a new kind of deal. This seems politically impossible before November, but politicians on both sides would do themselves – and the country – a big favor if they quietly started devising a solution that everyone can live with, even if neither side gets everything it wants.

For progressives, universal coverage has always been the Holy Grail and dream deferred, not just of health policy, but of all social policy. I don’t think conservatives have a health policy interest that is so clear and heartfelt as universal coverage is for progressives, but if I had to take a stab, I think it is their belief that people don’t have enough “skin in the game” and are therefore wasteful of other people’s money.

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A Necessary Compromise

This week’s House health care repeal vote is little more than a political stunt–everyone knows the effort will die in the Senate.

But, when the day is done the only way for the Republicans to do anything with the new health law will be to work out a compromise—repeal before the 2012 elections is impossible and it isn’t very likely after the 2012 elections. Even if the Republicans sweep the White House and both houses of Congress in 2012, it is highly unlikely they will have the 60 Senate votes needed for a full repeal.

So, in the end, a compromise will be needed.

During the past week, more than one Democrat has indicated an interest in at least looking at compromise amendments to the health care bill—particularly on the individual mandate. But so far, Republicans are showing no signs of being interested in fixing what they say is a bill so bad it should only be repealed.

The House vote will take place against a backdrop of increasing debt and enormous fiscal challenge. In recent days, the national debt passed the $14 trillion mark—that is $45,300 for every person in the country!

Half of our national debt was added in just the last six years. The debt was “only” $7.6 trillion in January 2005 and $10.6 trillion the day President Obama was inaugurated just two years ago.

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