Health care reform in America is officially over. The enormous energy from the Democratic base could have been used to enact serious reform, and instead has been misdirected by the Obama Administration and blown into the wind. After a year of intensive negotiations, back room deals, and compromise after compromise, the deal emerging from the Senate might even make health care worse. It leaves in place all the structural problems (the endless bureaucracy and lack of government negotiating power) and actually forces people to buy it.
Before, Americans could choose not to be screwed by insurance companies. Now they can’t.
The overriding theme of the new health care bill is that it ‘attempts’ to achieve progressive aims through a profit driven system. As Glenn Greenwald notes, it is a rebirth of the Clintonian and Blairite doctrine of the 90’s, of the ‘Third Way’:
At its core, it seeks to use government power not to regulate, but to
benefit and even merge with, large corporate interests, both for
political power(those corporate interests, in return, then fund theParty and its campaigns)
and for policy ends. It’s devoted to empowering large corporations,
letting them always get what they want from government, and extracting,
at best, some very modest concessions in return.
This profit driven model has proved to be spectacularly inefficient and expensive, yet given the industry’s reach into government, it doesn’t really matter. The point was never really about reform, just a retooling of an industry that was so completely idiotic and wasteful that it was about to destroy itself. With the moderate reforms proposed by the bill, health care in American will change possibly enough so that it doesn’t explode. But the market driven system that works to make a profit for its shareholders and deny as much care as possible cannot be sustainable in the long run.
I’m not sure whether it was worth voting for. My thoughts are that politically speaking, it probably was, just to get one over the Republicans. But it isn’t good, and it won’t do anything to reform health care.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.