Stephen Davidson, author of the upcoming Still Broken, Understanding the U.S. Health Care System lays out the problems of our health care system and asks what changes we need to solve those problems. He goes on to explain, in a political context, what strategy for reform might get us close to a solution. His approach to health care, “intended to be both comprehensive and analytic, attempts to build on the lessons gained from past reform efforts with the goal of helping to make reform a reality of this time.” (p14)
With the health care Summit still fresh on the nation’s political mind, we might ask where health care reform will go from here and if reform really is a reality of our time. The bi-partisan summit yesterday brought many points to light from both the Republican and Democratic Parties, although some say it may have been just more political theater. President Obama began the summit yesterday by saying:
“I'd like to make sure that this discussion is actually a discussion, and not just us trading talking points. I hope that this isn't political theater, where we're just playing to the cameras and criticizing each other, but instead are actually trying to solve the problem.”
Davidson thinks that the solution lies in generating the political momentum to pass one comprehensive bill that encompasses all pertinent areas of reform: increasing access, improving quality, and containing health care expenditure so that all individuals can afford and have access to good health care. While the Obama administration’s current plan, along with the two bills already passed, may not be a silver bullet in Davidson’s mind, he does see them as a historic achievement nonetheless.
“But will they cross the finish line?” Only one other administration has been able to bring health reform to the floor, and that was Lyndon Johnson 36 years ago. Davidson points out that thus far the Obama administration has succeeded, in some ways, that he hadn’t predicted. However, one area they have lacked in is taking advantage of the bully pulpit. The president has yet to really rally the public and the Democratic Party into reform. At this point, it seems like a do or die situation. If Congress cannot reconcile their views and pass one comprehensive reform, not only will it be a political downfall for the democratic administration but it’s possible that we’ll go another thirty some years without a chance of any reform at all.
The White House reported that President Obama will make and announcement next week about what the best way forward will be from this point. Will health care reform become a reality? Will President Obama rally support from the nation and his party? As Steve Benen points out in the Washington Monthly, “The train is leaving the station. If 217 House Dems and 51 Senate Dems are on board, the nation will finally have the health care reform we've been waiting for since the days of Teddy Roosevelt. If not, reform will die, the crisis will worsen, and Democrats will have committed electoral suicide on a grand scale.”