Support Appears To Build for Health Care Reform Nationwide
A substantial movement for changes to the U.S. health care system "may be on the way," Dow Jones reports.
According to Dow Jones, reform "that goes beyond incremental tinkering" is "high on the domestic agenda of the Democratic presidential candidates as more middle-class families are subjected to the kind of upheaval that having no or insufficient insurance can bring." A "growing consensus" among businesses, unions, employees and some physicians asserts that the current health care system is "both undesirable and financially unsustainable" as many "businesses complain that their health care obligations are hurting their profits and global competitiveness," according to Dow Jones.
However, "obstacles to revamping the health care system persist," such as a "patchwork" of state and federal laws; the question of whether private insurance or a government-run single-payer system would provide better care; and whether "financial incentives can be reorganized so patients can get the care they need without losing their life savings if they suffer a misfortune," Dow Jones reports.
Jonathan Cohn, author of a book on health care reform, said that for major changes to occur, lawmakers must fear backlash from voters more than they do attacks by special-interest groups, which are expected to lobby hard against reform. Dow Jones notes that in "the absence of federal action," states have taken steps to implement universal health care proposals.
Alan Sager, professor of health policy and management at Boston University School of Public Health, said, "Congress would have much more confidence in acting if states were to succeed in doing something" (Gerencher, Dow Jones, 5/16).
- Froma Harrop, Seattle Times: A proposal for universal health care coverage by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) "is the first serious proposal for universal coverage in 13 years," and it "could be politically viable," syndicated columnist Harrop writes in a Times opinion piece. Wyden's plan, which would organize individuals into regional private insurance pools, "deserves a hard look" because "the public is hungry for a deal" on health care, Harrop writes (Harrop, Seattle Times, 5/16).
- Morton Kondracke, Roll Call: "A bipartisan consensus is gradually developing on key elements for improving the U.S. health care system," but "a vast gap still exists between Democrats and Republicans on the role of government," Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, writes in an opinion piece. However, because sources tell Kondracke that President Bush is not committed to large changes in the health care system, "incremental progress toward health reform is, unfortunately, probably the best we can hope for until after a rigorous 2008 debate," he concludes (Kondracke, Roll Call, 5/17).