After the healthcare summit, now what?

February 26, 2010

Perhaps it’s little surprise that little was accomplished yesterday at Obama’s healthcare summit. The issue has become far too partisan.

Perhaps it’s little surprise that little was accomplished yesterday at Obama’s healthcare summit. The issue has become far too partisan. I thought the NY Times summed it up nicely here:

“If there was any question about how deeply divided Republicans and Democrats are about how to reshape the American health care system, consider that they spent the first few hours of President Obama’s much-anticipated health care forum on Thursday arguing over whether they were in fact deeply divided.”

In the end, Republicans rejected the idea of voting for Obama’s bill, and Democrats are considering pushing it through without their support. (I tend to think this is a path they should have taken a long time ago. Some issues should be legislated without all the bipartisan wrangling for votes. Why not just rely on the simple majority and pass some form of reform? Had they taken that route far sooner, perhaps the bill wouldn’t be the weaker version of insurance reform it is now.)

The Times does note a few things the Republicans and Democrats agree on: the need for more regulation of insurers, and the idea that government should help individuals and small businesses pool purchasing power for insurance. How to accomplish these things? Now that’s where they disagree.

Americans similarly agree on certain elements of reform (tax credits to small businesses, a health insurance exchange, financial help for low to middle income), according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll. The same poll shows Americans split (43 percent to 43 percent) on the healthcare reform legislation, though.

And another interesting point in the poll is that most Americans - 59 percent - say the delays are “more about both sides playing politics,” and 25 percent say they are “more about Republicans and Democrats having disagreements.”

Twenty-two percent want Congress to put healthcare on hold, and 19 want to see them pull the plug on the effort for 2010.