Matt Taibbi sums up the monumental efforts in Congress and the Senate to basically do absolutely nothing about serious health care reform:
The old system of inefficient bureaucracies and artificially high
prices has basically been completely protected. What we’re left
figuring out is exactly how to pay for a hugely expensive new program
without taking significant money out of the pockets of these
industries. The other challenge for the Obama administration is how to
unite Congress enough to pass this gigantic new venture that really
doesn’t achieve much, and the strategy there is turning out to be just
what you’d expect: rather than pushing a single cohesive plan that
makes sense in the long term, party leaders are putting forward a
confused mish-mash of non-plans and trying to buy off the various
segments of the Congress with pork and other forms of bribery as a
means of solving the extremely short-term problem of how to pass this
bill in time for the 2010 elections.
While Taibbi believes that the expansion of medicare to 55 year-olds is most certainly a positive, it still leaves in place an incredibly corrupt and inefficient system for those who really need cheaper medical care:
If expanding Medicare is good for people aged 55 and up, why isn’t
it good for everybody? Why isn’t it a good idea to provide cheaper
insurance for people in their preventive care years, so that they cost
Medicare less as they do get older?
Answer: because it’s a political non-starter, because hopsitals and
doctors won’t tolerate having to take Medicare rates from everyone, nor
will the pharma companies or the insurance companies tolerate having to
compete with Medicare for their most profitable customers.
The whole process is completely mind boggling to watch. There has been so much media coverage and political back and forth over the issue, one would have thought we were discussing a life and death struggle for democracy. In reality, we're watching two parties argue over how much the public should continue to subsidize private insurance market. It's not a matter of all or nothing, but all or a lot.
And unfortunately, given single payer and a public option are now out, it looks like the insurance industry will be getting it all.