Wednesday, February 14, 2007

10 Bipartisan Senators Offer a Health Care Reform Outline

Just a few weeks ago I wrote a post that began, it's a new day in the health care debate. Health care reform is breaking out all over.

My point was that I haven't seen such enthusiasm for reform since the early 90's and the resulting Clinton Health Plan effort. Everyone seems to have a plan--not the least of which are offered by some very powerful bedfellows.

That trend continued this week when five Republican Senators and five Democrats sent President Bush a letter arguing it's time to move forward. They outlined only broad points that included:
  • Universal coverage done in a way that protects Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Agreeing with Bush that the current tax treatment of employer health benefits needs to be on the table. The value of that tax benefit is almost $200 billion a year--money that can be shifted to pay for new coverage.
These concepts cover the things that many Democrats want--reform built upon existing programs--and something many Republicans favor--moving away from the employer-based system toward one more oriented to individual responsibility.

There isn't a lot of detail here.

What there is--and this is huge--is a bipartisan agreement that we need to find common ground and begin to solve this problem. They are saying the possible is more important than the perfect because this problem just can't continue for the good of our people and our global competitiveness.

The initial White House reaction, to what was merely an invitation to begin a process, was positive.

As I have said before, major health reform will not occur until after the next election and we elect a new President and Congress--in great part based upon what they say about health care reform. This debate needs a great deal more progress beyond the conceptual level it is at.

But the process is under way----for real.

Health reform is breaking out all over!!
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