I don’t know a single person that fully supports the current healthcare bill, in any of its forms. I’m certainly not one. It is, perhaps, the great compromise of the decade. Although it’s not going to win much Republican support, it has incorporated some conservative principles, and removed many liberal ones from what one might expect a potentially filibuster-proof Democratic congress to produce.
Like any big compromise, this means that the bill contains several flaws that render it less effective than it might otherwise be. This is the curse of a democracy such as ours. By its nature, Congress is a mediocre institution. We’re handicapped by our legislators competing with one another, representing 50 states and more than 300 million people, with the influence of special interests and the comfort of the status quo; but ultimately this is a good thing. If you want an efficient legislative process, move to China, where little attention will be paid to your rights. If you want an inefficient one that gets what you need, respects your rights, and you can live with, even if it doesn’t give you exactly what you want, you’re probably in the right place.
What we’ve ended up with is a hodgepodge of pretty good ideas. Few of them are great. Few of them are terrible. We’re going to end up with an upgrade to a flawed system, and it’s not going to fix it forever. We’re taking one step back and two steps forward. In another thirty or forty years we’ll likely have to do this all over again.
In the meantime, we’ll all complain about the feds taking over our health, we’ll hear crazy talk about death panels and bureaucracy, and we’ll pay too much for our health care. But we’ll also sign right up for that public plan when we lose our jobs or turn 65, we’re not going to jump on flights to foreign countries to see better doctors (because they’ll still be here), we sure won’t complain if our premiums take a dip (they’re not going up), and when all is said and done, I really don’t believe that any of us are going to be worse off than we are today. When this bill passes, we’ll all move on, and our lives aren’t going to change much at all, and if it turns out to be a disaster, well we’ll just have to pass a new bill fix it.