Have progressive proposals lost several battles in the health care reform debate? You bet. But has the war been lost?
Not by a long shot.
Yes, Congressional Democrats have spent plenty of time negotiating with themselves and compromising on compromises, but look at what’s been accomplished: a national public insurance option passed the United States House of Representatives. Both houses’ versions of the legislation will include measures to prevent insurers from withholding coverage due to preexisting conditions and prevent them from engaging in recission (withdrawing coverage once a policyholder gets sick). Both houses’ bills will include subsidies to ensure that low-income individuals can afford coverage, and the argument in conference committee looks like it could come down to two major options: a medium-strength public option (House version) or an expansion of Medicare eligibility down to age 55 (Senate deal reported last week).
If it can pass the Senate (Blanche Lincoln, Joe Lieberman, we’re looking at you), that might actually be better than a weak public option, because it A.) removes a Republican talking point that Medicare was going to be cut (hint: it wasn’t) and B.) points the way toward a true national insurance system that covers everyone equally.
So let’s all be really clear on where things stand: the legislation that hits President Obama’s desk early next year will not be “mission accomplished” on health care. Rather, it will be a positive first step on the journey toward affordable, accessible, quality health coverage for everyone in America.
Update: of course, we’ll see just how far Joe Lieberman is willing to go to screw over American citizens in favor of insurance companies.