The Future Of Health Care Reform
Not to be difficult, mind you, but what is it that the Democrats see themselves running on in the next 75 days -- or, for that matter, the next two years? Health-care reform? Since many of its benefits don't kick in until 2014, it exists in the minds of millions of Americans chiefly as a nebulous threat.
Sen. Tom Harkin put the point well when he described the health bill as a "starter home." What Harkin neglected to mention is that the home isn't built yet, and the construction zone is in the path of a hurricane -- the fast-approaching storm of runaway health costs and hard-core conservative opposition. In the face of these challenges, reformers have three great priorities: implementing the law, protecting and defending it from the already-mounting attacks, and renovating and improving Harkin's "starter home" to make it a sustainable structure. The next health-care battle will require organization, narrative, and strategy at least as much as the last did. And this time, reformers will need to call plainly for a greater government role -- armed, if they take their three big tests seriously, with concrete examples of government getting things right.
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