Health Care Seen As Opportunity to 'Undermine Conservative Worldview'

by Lesley Politi on November 8, 2008

Health Care Seen As Opportunity to ‘Undermine Conservative Worldview’

November 7, 2008

by Amy Menefee

A group of people interested in advancing a liberal agenda was recently asked to “name the single most important policy step progressives could take to solidify a long-term grip on the government — the kind of extended run we had from 1932 through to the Age of Reagan.”

Sara Robinson of the Campaign for America’s Future answered:

“I settled on ‘provide universal health care — preferably single-payer’ as my final answer. I chose this not just because health care is an important public good (though it is), but because I’m convinced that this single step will do more to rapidly and permanently undermine the conservative worldview than anything else we could possibly do.”

The media and blogosphere are buzzing already with speculation about President-elect Barack Obama’s first steps on health care.

Things to watch: 

  • Plan Outline: New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman told the World Health Organization some priorities liberals have shared with him. His outline of the plan, from his observations (emphasis added): 

“Legislation could be drafted within weeks, though this would not come into force until 2010 or 2011. There are four pieces to this plan: a community rating, to prevent ‘cherry-picking’ by private insurers; subsidies to help lower-income people afford insurance; a form of mandatory insurance for children; and government-run plans so people can opt out of private insurance. Many people think such a federal health insurance system would eventually merge with Medicare and Medicaid to form a larger national system.”

As the Galen Institute has explained, these policies have a track record of driving up health care costs for consumers and taxpayers. The recent example of Hawaii’s program for children’s insurance is a stark message to those who would mandate insurance for children and provide a “free” government option. When everyone starts signing up for the “free” care — not the intention of the program — the government can’t sustain it. 

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a legislative watch here

  • The Recession: Despite much agreement on the liberal agenda for health care, economic realities are casting doubt on what the new Congress can accomplish — and fund. In view of a $700-billion bailout package for the financial industry, a health care plan like Mr. Obama’s (estimates range from less than $100 billion to more than $400 billion per year) would be difficult to implement. The conventional wisdom expects incremental changes to the system, most likely beginning with an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and possibly Medicaid. 
  • New Leadership: Mr. Obama is in the process of naming his Cabinet, and the buzz on the Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS) centers on former Sen. Tom Daschle and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Daschle is author of “Critical: What We Can Do about the Health Care Crisis.” Sebelius has served as a state insurance commissioner.

Rumors are also swirling about a new Food and Drug Administration


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