Now, the pass-the-thing people could be wrong. Maybe hopes of improving the new health care system over time, the way Social Security has been improved, will prove to have been fantasies; or maybe rejecting this bill and trying again, a strategy that has failed many times in the past, would work this time. But it’s a carefully thought-out, honest position. And arriving at that position has, in my case at least, required a lot of agonized soul-searching.
And maybe I’m being unfair, but I don’t seem to see the same degree of soul-searching on the other side.
Health care and Iraq
Back in July, Paul Krugman wrote this in an op-ed column at The New York TImes:
Reform, if it happens, will rest on four main pillars: regulation, mandates, subsidies and competition.
By regulation I mean the nationwide imposition of rules that would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on your medical history, or dropping your coverage when you get sick. This would stop insurers from gaming the system by covering only healthy people.
On the other side, individuals would also be prevented from gaming the system: Americans would be required to buy insurance even if they’re currently healthy, rather than signing up only when they need care. And all but the smallest businesses would be required either to provide their employees with insurance, or to pay fees that help cover the cost of subsidies — subsidies that would make insurance affordable for lower-income American families.
Finally, there would be a public option: a government-run insurance plan competing with private insurers, which would help hold down costs.
An Incoherent Truth
The Senate health care bill has only one of these things - there are no regulators, therefore, there is no regulatory framework. The employer mandate is a shadow of what it was, and the excise tax almost cancels it out, at least in a philosophical sense. There is no public option, period.
All that's left is the requirement for the rest of us to buy insurance. So, even though it lacks three of these four
Maybe the Professor needs to review the meaning of the word "essential". Or maybe he'd like to explain in person to a few of the folks who are going to "benefit" from this bill how important it is that they pony up their last dollar for worthless insurance so that we can all make progress on health care reform.
UPDATE (Jan. 14): As was kindly pointed out by a commenter at FireDogLake, the word "essential" was not next to the word "pillars". Krugman used the word "essentials" in the previous paragraph - rather different context, I'm afraid.