Validation on Health Care Reform
In an interview with The Hill, outgoing Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has come to admit that, in hindsight, most of the strong political and policy criticism I (and Firedoglake) were making during the health care reform debate were correct. From The Hill:
“We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified healthcare, made it more efficient and made it less costly and we didn’t do it,” Harkin told The Hill. “So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.
“What we did is we muddle through and we got a system that is complex, convoluted, needs probably some corrections and still rewards the insurance companies extensively,” he added. […]
He believes Congress should have enacted “single-payer right from the get go or at least put a public option would have simplified a lot.”
It is always worth remembering that Senate Democrats could have just done away with the filibuster or used reconciliation to pass a much better health care reform bill with a simple majority.
Harkin’s remarks also highlight the true potential value of a public option. It wouldn’t have just reduced the deficit or given people more choices. A public option could be used to make the entire system dramatically easier and more user-friendly for people.
The exchanges could have been set up to automatically enroll all the uninsured into the public option, with people having the choice to opt-out or instead shop around for a private plan. This would have dramatically reduce the hassle for most people.
Instead Democrats went with a design that financially punishes regular people if they don’t under take the complex task of shopping around for insurance every year. A process that according to a new poll from Bankrate, 75 percent of people feel is at least as unenjoyable as doing their taxes.
The only thing I can’t understand is why it took five years for Democrats to to adopt forcing people to undergo a very stressful shopping process to get insufficient coverage from deeply unpopular private insurance companies was a really stupid political move.