Health Care for All’s John McDonough is pumping up the major accomplishments of the new health care law: 100,000 people now have health coverage who didn’t have it before the law. I’m thrilled to jump on the bandwagon in celebrating this. HCFA and their friends actually have real people they can point to that have been helped by their work.
That being said, I certainly can’t agree with the contention by HCFA’s Eric Benson that “bad press is a threat to health reform’s success”. Hooey. Chapter 58’s flaws are the threat to health reform’s success: The cost, the potential imposition of the personal mandate on those unable to afford it, the lack of an incentive for non-insuring employers to do the right thing, and so forth. (I would imagine that Eric and I agree on these things.) I think all health care advocates realized that the new health care law was what-we-could-do-now, not the ideal.
As much as I respect the ideals of the single-payer crowd, they don’t have the organization to really bring pressure to bear on the legislature. They can’t get in the faces of lawmakers the way that the ACT coalition (of which Health Care for All is a part) has done. And therefore they can’t yet point to actual people that have been helped directly by their efforts.
I think it’s amazingly unfortunate how the pro-universal health care movement is fractured over policy mechanics and political tactics. And there’s really quite an amazing amount of bad blood between the factions. That definitely doesn’t help anyone get health care.
I don’t expect people to agree on how to insure everyone, but I would hope that people could agree to provisionally support each other’s efforts, even while pursuing their own methods. In other words, it’s OK to say “X is good, but it’s not enough and we’re really pushing Y.” That way you work in coalition with people who share the same goals without sacrificing one’s ideals. Furthermore, it increases the political power of the entire movement and makes ambitious reform more likely.
I hope that the single-payer folks and the “incrementalists” can find points of agreement and bring their combined forces to bear on implementation of the new law. To the extent that they can speak with one voice, they should. And that means a full acknowledgment of both successes and flaws — in public. Citing successes is not tantamount to ignoring failure; citing problems is not the same as “rooting” for the law’s failure.