Help name 2009 Top Values Stories: Frankenstein’s healthcare reform?


Healthcare reform debate on rationing
How about Frankenstein’s healthcare reform as No. 2 on our list? Obama’s inauguration is my pick for the No. 1 values-related story for 2009 (scroll down to read that story). Some of you agree; some don’t. Thank you ALL for commenting!

What do you think of my pick for No. 2? I call it Frankenstein’s healthcare reform—the stitched-together monster called a bill that may pass right before the Christmas holiday.

All bills are Frankenstein’s creations, of course. All are pastiches of high ideals, good intentions, naked self-interest, pragmatics, and politics. This one is no different. It includes Medicaid and insurance-tax perks for Nebraska, brokered to attain the golden tally of 60 senatorial votes. But special perks and state-specific benefits are the norm. Vermont, Massachusetts, and others states won advantages, too. There our countless other compromises and inequities in the bill, and we won’t know how it all works out until the House version (which contains a public option) and the Senate version (which doesn’t) are reconciled.

What concerns me is that a few hold-outs can dictate the final contours—and long-lasting repercussions—of a new law. Granted, this is the norm. But that doesn’t make it right or in the best interests of Americans. The legislative prescription is clear: Hold out and you can extract all sorts of unfair advantages.

` If the healthcare reform bill passes, it will be an historic sea-change. For decades, many decades, Democrats and presidents have tried to reform our inequitable healthcare system. Even as a Frankenstein reform, it is a welcome change.

The bigger issue (as if healthcare isn’t big enough) is that we face many other gargantuan issues and severe oppositional dynamics impede our ability to face them. I agree with Paul Krugman, who wrote Sunday in a New York Times op-ed:

America is caught between severe problems that must be addressed and a minority party determined to block action on every front. Doing nothing is not an option—not unless you want the nation to sit motionless, with an effectively paralyzed government, waiting for financial, environmental and fiscal crises to strike.”

So, what do you think of my No. 2 pick?

    CARE TO READ MORE? Here’s an overview story about the larger national dialogue we’re helping to prompt this week throughout the entire ReadTheSpirit online magazine. We thank you for joining in this important conversation!

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