So now after over a year of intense debate inside and outside of the beltway, a health care reform bill has passed. Today, President Obama signed it into law. For now it is the law of the land. To be sure, it is an accomplishment that Speaker Pelosi and the President were able to get to the 216 votes they needed (the bill passed 219-212) but it is also clear, that with well over 30 Democrats voting against the bill, and everyone Republican voting against it, that there is a major divide in political opinion regarding this action. For many, the manner in which the votes were obtained, with what amounts to arm twisting, payoffs to various districts and other bullying tactics, reminded all of the backroom deals made in the original Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve (the deals for Nebraska, Louisiana, Florida, etc.).
Also, there are clearly going to be legal challenges throughout the nation brought by many state attorney generals as to the constitutionality of various mandates (individual mandate for example) as well as the unfunded mandate created by the major expansion of Medicaid. All that it will take is for one judge to issue a restraining order and the implementation of this bill will be put on hold until the court resolves these various disputes.
To be sure, there are items in the bill that we like and have argued for. Unfortunately, the manner in which the bill is laid out, leaves many of the most obvious items on hold for several years and does not address at all some of the most serious issues (tort reform, interstate sales of health insurance products, etc.). At this point, many are calling for repeal. That could well happen. However, if history is any guide, that is unlikely. But what is likely is that the current bill will be amended and modified in large measure so that the laws which actually go into effect over the next 8 years will bare little resemblance to what was in the original bill. These changes could be good or bad, which is always the way things work in the Congress. Only time will tell.
For now, we have a health bill . . . that is good. For now we have a health bill that has major flaws . . . that is bad. We must all stay engaged as this is not over. Real health reform remains our goal as well as the goal of many. But we must have reform that fits and honors our traditions of free markets and individual liberty. We hope that all will continue to work for those goals . . . obi jo.
House passes historic healthcare overhaul – http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-na-healthcare-passage22-2010mar22,0,2788293.story
House Approves Landmark U.S. Health-Care Legislation – http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a7KBNvsLEJKw&pos=1
Obama Hails Vote on Health Care as Answering ‘the Call of History’ – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/health/policy/22health.html?th&emc=th
Big Win for Obama, but at What Cost? – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/health/policy/22assess.html?th&emc=th
House passes health-care reform bill without Republican votes – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/21/AR2010032100943.html?hpid=topnews
Casting Vote, and Now Trying to Sell It Back Home – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/us/politics/23florida.html?th&emc=th
Health Measure’s Opponents Plan Legal Challenges – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/23/health/policy/23legal.html?th&emc=th