Friday, August 14, 2009

Health Care Hard to Reform When Many Voters Fear Change

Many of the protesters at Congressional town hall meetings are angry about a host of non-health issues, including the stimulus spending, budget deficit, auto bail-outs, and cap and trade. But, Democrats are missing the danger sign if they dismiss them as mere shills for lobbyists or extremists. The Democratic strategy of using the economic crisis to jamb the last 20 years of Democratic agenda into law has run into a serious “too much, too fast, too expensive” backlash.

Health care delivery is hard to change. Most people have insurance, and while they would like it to be cheaper, they are mostly not dissatisfied with either their quality or choice of health care. Although most people would like to extend coverage to the uninsured, they are concerned the cost of care will go up, producing either a tax increase, rationing to control cost or both. And, voters are very skeptical of Congress and Washington in general and not anxious to turn health care over to politicians. Meanwhile, the recovery appears delayed and federal spending is at record levels.

President Obama, realizing the above, wanted to avoid the August recess and the possible on-camera voter reaction, but the loss of some moderate Democratic support in the House and a desire to have Republican support in the Senate, delayed action.

While it is still likely something will pass this year – health care reform is simply too important to the Democrats and their super majority – it may be considerably less comprehensive than the various House versions. (See 9News article)

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